Mounira Al Solh in conversation with Kate Macfarlane

Drawing Room is pleased to present the third film in a series of recorded conversations that derive from A Companion to Contemporary Drawing, a recently published book edited by Kelly Chorpening and Rebecca Fortnum, which explores how 20th and 21st century artists have used drawing to understand and comment on the world. Featuring contributions from Drawing Room Co-Director Kate Macfarlane, the publication is available here.

This conversation between Mounira Al Solh and Kate Macfarlane discusses I Strongly Believe in Our Right to Be Frivolous, a series of drawings that Al Solh began in 2012. The multitude of drawings in the series is befitting for Al Solh’s subject – the portrayal of people who have been displaced as result of the war in Syria and other conflicts. The artist is of Syrian/Lebanese heritage and was herself a victim of forced relocation during her childhood. Macfarlane writes about I Strongly Believe in Our Right to Be Frivolous in ‘Graphic Witness’, which examines graphic responses to acts of discrimination and violence by five contemporary artists: Mounira Al Solh, Catherine Anyango Grünewald, Andrea Bowers, Nidhal Chamekh and Lorna Simpson. It discusses the political and social significance of the medium of drawing for these artists: drawing’s distinctive capacity to witness events as compared to documentary photography. She argues that as a material index of injustice, inequality and conflict, these ethical, though-provoking drawings are a productive document of witnessing.

A related exhibition – Graphic Witness – featured additional artists Eugenio Dittborn, Joy Gerrard, Leon Golub, Beatriz González, George Grosz, Erik van Lieshout, Nancy Spero and Rirkrit Tiravanija (Drawing Room, 2017). I Strongly Believe in Our Right to Be Frivolous featured in CLOSE: Drawn Portraits (Drawing Room, 2018).

Mounira Al Solh (b. 1978, Beirut) lives and works in Beirut and Amsterdam. Graduated from Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam (2006); and Lebanese University, Beirut (2001). Select solo exhibitions include Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan; Art Institute Chicago, Chicago (2018); Jameel Arts Center, Dubai (2018); Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha (2018); Documenta 14, Kassel and Athens (2017); Alt Art Space, Istanbul (2016); Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2014). Select group exhibitions include Risk it all, WIELS, Brussels (2021); Our world is burning, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2020); Positions #5, Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (2019); Gohyang: Home, Seoul Museum of Art, South Korea (2019); CLOSE: Drawn Portraits, Drawing Room, London (2018).

Kate Macfarlane is Co-Director of Drawing Room. She is a curator and writer based in London who co-founded Drawing Room in 2000 and since that time has co-devised the organisation’s vision and programme. Forthcoming exhibitions and writing include FIGURE/S: drawing after Bellmer (Drawing Room, 2021), curated with Michael Newman and ON FIGURE/S, pub. MA BIBLIOTHÈQUE, edited with Michael Newman, Sharon Kivland and Louis Mason); recent past curatorial projects include ‘CLOSE: Drawn Portraits’ (Drawing Room, 2018); ‘A Slice through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings’ (Drawing Room and Modern Art Oxford, 2018).

Mounira Al SolhI Strongly Believe in Our Right to Be Frivolous© Mounira Al Solh. Courtesy the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut/Hamburg 2012- ongoing