Born in Beirut in 1931, Huguette Caland (née El Khoury) took her first painting lessons at 16 with Manetti, an Italian artist living in Lebanon.
After the death of her father, Beshara El Khoury, one of the founders of the Lebanese independence and its first president, Caland decided to pursue her dream to become an artist.
After spending four years at the American University of Beirut where she studied Fine Arts, Caland moved to Paris in 1970.
Liberated from social obligations she was able to blossom and meet many contemporary artists. In 1987, she moved to California where she established the studio of her dreams.
Caland’s art is regularly featured in solo exhibitions or in group shows all over the world and was acquired by Centre Pompidou, La Bibliothèque Nationale, The British Museum, LACMA, Armand Hammer, Museum of Fine Art Huston, San Diego Museum of Art, Palm Spring Museum of Art, F. Weisman Art Foundation, as well as collections in the United States of America, the Far East, the Middle East, and Europe. Most recently, in 2019, the Sharjah Biennial hosted two rooms of her paintings and abayas, in a section at the Sharjah Art Museum curated by Omar Kholeif; and an exhibition of her works from the 1970s and 1980s has been held at Tate St Ives, the UK institution’s easterly coastal outpost.
Caland passed away on September 23rd, 2019, at the age of 88.
About her work:
One of the most significant female artists in the Arab world of the 20th century, Caland was a versatile painter, draftswoman, sculptor and conceptual artist, leaving an active legacy and a body of work that connects her native city of Beirut and the ornamental patterns of the East to the disciplined formalism of abstraction and minimalism acquired in Europe. Early on, the artist was immediately drawn to the imaginary of women and their forms, therefore her work was at the time an explosive exploration of sexuality and voluptuousness; clearly ahead of her own time.
While living in Paris and California, the artist became immersed in the avant-gardes of the 20th century, bringing back home an idiosyncratic style, firmly anchored in the reductionist process, but never altogether abandoning a narrative quality, seamlessly interwoven with the lyricism and humour of a skilled story-teller. Moving from rigid symmetrical lines on paper towards dense oil painting and vice versa, Huguette Caland achieves syntactic equilibrium between surface and subject matter, filling space to the brim of implosion, yet never exiting the aesthetic view. The space is here distorted, but never immanent or intangible.