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Jean Boghossian brings ‘Flames’ to Qatar’s Anima Gallery

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Jean Boghossian brings ‘Flames’ to Qatar’s Anima Gallery

Described as “a life forged in fire”, Flames is Boghossian’s most personal work yet featuring his fiery meditations on his jewellery-making past, conflict in the Middle East and the climate crisis…

Jean Boghossian, the Belgian-Lebanese multidisciplinary artist and modern-day alchemist, announces his extraordinary new solo exhibition featuring Boghossian’s explosive use of fire and smoke – he is one of only two artists in the world to use the processes as a medium – but is also imbued with the artist’s personal reflections, from his master jeweller past, the impact of war in the Middle East and the wrath of the climate crisis.

At its core, Flames is a captivating look at Boghossian’s journey from master jeweller to full-time artist, prompting gallery-visitors to ruminate on themes such as transformation and regeneration. Boghossian’s family has been making jewels for six generations; it was working as a jeweller that Jean Boghossian discovered his artistic metier, by using torches (fire is an essential component in jewellery-making) to mould and embellish precious metals and stones.

Through artworks such as Volcano #4, 2023 and Regatta #17, 2023, it’s possible to trace the artist’s development and to detect vestiges of his jewellery-making past.

The intrinsic danger and violence of fire, its ability to scorch, maim and destroy is ever-present in Flames, which shines a light on another strand of Boghossian’s journey: his background growing up in the Middle East. Boghossian was born in Aleppo, Syria. Once a key trading stop on the Silk Road, much of Aleppo was blasted to rubble during the Syrian civil war; it was also among the worst-hit areas in the 2023 Turkey-Syria earthquake.

Another civil war – in Lebanon – forced Boghossian to flee from Beirut (where he grew up) for Brussels in 1975. With conflict in the region still happening due to the Israel-Gaza and Saudi Arabia-Yemen wars, through Flames Boghossian is showing us humanity can take such unforgiving hellscapes and forge them into something new.

Finally, after 12 months when it really did it seem as if the world was burning – from wildfires in Greece and Canada to 2023 being confirmed as the hottest year on record – it’s impossible not to consider the climate crisis when viewing Flames. Again, with the exhibition Boghossian is bringing his alchemist skills to the fore, holding a painful mirror to our increasingly Hadean-like world. Boghossian has an almost supernatural, playful relationship with fire.

“Fire is my partner. He chose me to reveal what he can produce. I try to guide him to what I want. Sometimes he follows but sometimes he resists and sometimes he burns me. It’s like dancing a tango. So we, fire and me, dance and we get the results that you see.”Jean Boghossian,

The launch of Flames will coincide with the annual Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (5-10 February); Boghossian Jewels (the family firm) will be represented at the fair.

Qatar has also developed a heavyweight reputation as one of the central hubs for arts & culture in the Middle East in recent years. In Doha, the Anima Gallery on Pearl Island (a celebrated destination for contemporary art), Damien Hirst’s gargantuan Miraculous Journey sculptures while Doha’s IM Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art boasts the largest collection of Islamic art in the world. Meanwhile, in the desert near Zekreet, people can view the sublime East-West/West-East sculpture by Richard Serra.

Flames by Jean Boghossian runs from 4 February – 3 March 2024 at the Anima Gallery, Doha, Qatar.

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