Sheana Eccles & Samir Sammoun
Samir Sammoun was born in a quaint Lebanese village perched
atop the Chouf Mountain, 40 km south of Beirut. To this day,
the artist vividly recalls the colourful Mediterranean landscape
of his childhood. At age 21, Samir immigrated to Canada where
he obtained degrees in electronic engineering and telecommunications.
Since graduation, he has pursued his professional career as
well as his passion, painting. Chris Klimantiris, who began
representing Samir Sammoun in 1996, provides an eloquent reaction
to the artist's work. The first time that I saw Samir's paintings,
I was fascinated by his refined technique. I felt like a time
traveler, transported to turn-of-the-century Paris and the
Samir Sammoun does have a unique post-impressionist style
and technique. A great colourist by nature, he has a very
rich palette of up to 30 tones and shades. He uses soft, round
brushes and works mainly on jute, a rougher, stronger material
than the traditional linen canvas. Jute is capable of holding
the generous amount of material that Samir uses to create
a backdrop. When starting to paint, Samir carefully prepares
his canvas with burnt sienna, which he applies with a pig-bristle
brush then wipes with a rag to remove any excess. His goal
is to have the grain of the canvas show. This technique is
used to create the illusion of light throughout the painting.
Layers of paint give a natural texture to the canvas. The
artists technique, successive voluntary strokes, generates
a certain relief and variation in the shades. The overall
effect can be seen, for example, in Samir's Appletrees in
Blossom. The sky, shining in slight contrast, meets flowers
that almost vibrate through the artist's use of iridescence.
A landscape artist, Samir Sammoun has a vast repertoire of
pictorial themes, e.g. willows, apple trees in bloom, wheat
fields, olive trees, villages, storms, churchyards and streetscapes.
His paintings reflect a tranquil happy mood. This is the art
of a man who loves life. As the artist puts it, I try to make
the person looking at my painting feel the colour of the sky,
the temperature of the air, and the breeze in the apple trees
or the wheat stalks.
Sammoun's art should be viewed from a distance of a few feet.
At first glance, his paintings seem blurred. Only when the
viewer is at the right distance does the depth of the relief
and scene appear in three dimensions. Sammoun almost never
uses classical perspective. His initial sketch resembles a
few blotches that out- line shadows and basic reference points
in the scene that he has already turned over many times in
his mind. The work is then carried out in the automatiste
style that relies on the number of strokes previously applied.
The final result comes only at the end when the layers of
light are placed in the appropriate places according to the
texture generated. Sammoun?s subtle touch appears in his wheat
fields series. Here the rhythmic gesture of the artist combines
grace and spontaneity. The delicate touches highlight the
slender stalks and the tufts heavy with grain. The artist
knows instinctively where the impact should be in the painting.
At times, it is the canvas that seems to evolve on its own.
It is through this process that I feel I am playing with the
fate of my renderings on the canvas. And it is from this inspiration
that I feel I am the one to harness the fate of what is to