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(I am) Free -حر (أنا)

(I am) Free -حر (أنا)

By Loulou Bissat

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Artwork by Loulou Bissat.

Acrylic on Archival Paper.
36 x 56cm, 2023.

(I am)
"Free" is More Than Just a Two Letter Word
(أنا) "حر"
بضم الحاء وتشديد الراء

“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.” - Aristotle.

Educated, rather than indoctrinated, and seeking facts without getting influenced by people's opinions is fortitude; to express my fortitude narrative, my artwork's theme revolves around this freedom.

The main word in the artwork is "free" (حر). This powerful two-letter word could be read differently depending on the accents added, بضم الحاء وتشديد الراء

"Free" becomes a different word by adding a dot or a few dots. خبر (news), حبر (ink), خير (goodness), جبر (fatalism), and even خبز (bread) are words that the viewer could see; words that relate to the current situation in Lebanon, from political news to the price of bread going up. The artwork thus leaves the viewer the freedom to look for the different possible words or to see that our fortitude remains in the one word or to interpret that to be free. We do not have to pay attention to the other words.

I chose to work on archival paper for this artwork as it is a permanent, durable paper. Selecting this paper reflects on the theme of fortitude, a strength that can be found even in a thin form, which usually originates from a strong tree, and the power that can be achieved by what is written on it.

Two archival papers will be hung back to back. One side includes the text of Articles 8, 9, and 13, from the Lebanese constitution, all about freedom: personal freedom protected by law, freedom of conscience, and freedom of expression and writing. Adding the quote, "He who enjoys the advantages of freedom makes his own decisions." On the other side, the text "I will choose from the freedom of speech a poem" (quoting poet Yahya bin Ali Maim), with my selected poem by Elia Abu Madhi

حُرٌّ وَمَذهَبُ كُلِّ حُرٍّ مَذهَبي
(أنا )

The poet embodied many of the principles that he lived to advocate and called on people to adhere to, the most important of which are human values.

The title of my artwork was inspired by his poem, where (أنا), translating to "I am," is singular, but placing it in parenthesis creates a plural version.

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About Loulou Bissat

Loulou Bissat is a French Lebanese interior architect and artist. She was born in 1971 in Beirut, where she spent her childhood, and moved to France in 1984.

Whilst studying for her Interior Architecture Diploma in Nice, Loulou developed her technical painting skills by attending her art teacher's studio in Vieille Antibes, where many artists found inspiration. She continued experimenting over the years, with various techniques, under different artists.

Being away from her hometown for many years set her on a quest to uncover stories of places and times she never experienced. The journey back started in 2019.

With a multifaceted career in Interior Architecture, Loulou found her inspiration in Beirut’s architecture; buildings renowned for their architectural charm, their historical significance, the ones designed by famous architects, and notably local landmarks that have stood as silent witnesses to the past. Whilst it was the buildings that revealed the stories of the city, the local culture was reflected in the dialect, film, music, and food.

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