Mounzer Kamnakache

Born in 1935, Syrian artist Mounzer Kamnakache works in sculpture and pastels, creating ethereal works that are at once existential and mythological. A 1968, graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus, he went on to pursue advanced studies in Paris, where he spent nearly two decades. Returning to his country of origin in the 1990s, he took up a teaching position at his alma mater and currently resides between Switzerland and Syria. A respected multidisciplinary artist, his sculptures and paintings have been shown in prominent galleries in the Middle East and Europe.

 

Often revolving around a red-headed heroine, the narratives of Kamnakache’s pastels seem to float above everyday realities. His is a universe dominated by creation stories and buttery-fleshed women whose robust forms recall those found in the works of Peter Paul Rubens or Pierre Auguste Renoir with a sensuality that speaks of an overt femininity, one reminiscent of ancient fertility goddess. For the artist, “woman (the connector) is the being who gives us the pulse of life and tenderness at the same time, and like all other creatures, places us before the big question.” Thus his airy compositions possess a sense of tranquility and meditation, as though his subjects are in a dream-like state.

Although his bronze works also reflect explorations of the sublime and that which is unseen, they demonstrate a greater range of aesthetic conclusions. At times his sculptures can appear inspired by Picasso’s cubist forms, in other instances the viewer might recall the round contours and sharp features of Kouros figures, which epitomized idealized youth and beauty, ideals that are not far from those skillfully projected by Kamnakache’s own protagonists.