Annie Kurkdjian was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1972 and lives and works in Beirut, or “the orgy of Beirut”, as she prefers to call it, herself profoundly informed by the Lebanese Civil War and this theatrical stage of conflict and war. But unlike the painters of her generation, Kurkdjian is not searching for an escape into an idyllic site of solace and consolation, or obsessed with the literal representation of war. The horrors and trauma of war are translated in her work as warm intimate spaces of metaphor and embodiment: Transformations of the body, psychological horror, paralysis and deformity. Her paintings are conceived as academic studies on fear and psychosis: How to represent myself through different stages of mutilation, torture, and ultimately, the impossibility of redemption.


The subjects in Kurkdjian’s paintings are not simply abject in unmediated horror, but also circumscribed by an absence of both subject and object, fixing their gaze onto an empty space of missing referents, whose source is unavailable to the observer. While there is a constant of despair, representation finds no finality in a work that is largely informed by philosophy, film and theology. The deformed bodies are not ultimately corrupted and abandoned to the biological cycles; there is also a search for mercy, love and dignity, through humorous references and laconic gestures. In the world of Annie Kurkdjian, there is a feeling of exposure and shame, of covetousness. The artist, a reader of both Rimbaud and Pasolini, wants to live with the illusion of living without illusions, and yet at the threshold of hope. 


The obvious acridity of the paintings, through which she wants to write life and a life, is softened by genre earth colors, creating a formal ambiguity, not exclusively dwelling on tragedy. Her vital impetus towards the human condition is far more encompassing, often becoming comedy and caricature, allegory and cinema, hallucination and dream. Violence, in Kurkdjian’s work, does not only deform the victims, but also the victimizers and the physical space that contains horror. Surfaces become concave, legs stretch into arms and the eyes become fixed inwards, extending beyond the canvas, into unforeseeable places that are forbidding yet tempting and sensuous. The destination could be redemption, but might as well be loss and darkness. More than informed by conflict and anger, the instability of life is the constant source of inspiration in Kurkdjian’s work, whose precise eye does not look the other way when confronted with horror. Instead, she attempts to transform all this vital energy into a theater of life. Annie Kurkdjian holds a degree in fine arts from the Lebanese University and studies in psychology and theology at the Lebanese University and St. Joseph University. Kurkdjian has been widely showcased in Lebanon and France; the artist is the recipient of the Jouhayna Badoura Prize in 2012 and special mention of the jury at Sursock Salon, Beirut, 2011. Her work was presented in Art Dubai 2013 to critical acclaim by Albareh and her first solo in Bahrain was held in December 2013.