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Confessions in times of Corona : Kameel Hawa


Kameel Hawa, painter and designer


How did the confinement impact your life, and what is your daily confinement routine?

Since confessions are called for, here are mine : This confinement gave me the “extra mile” of time to spend on my works, that I was often deprived of in normal daily routine. My dual role in design management and art had this drawback, where a bit of time is taken out from the share of each. Many a time while sitting with an artwork, I had a call of duty so I had to stop though the work might have needed an extra turn of time to be better served. Or sometimes to be carried forward to a further stage. Currently, confined in my Jeddah apartment and despite all the melancholy and the depressing news coming in from everywhere, I have, maybe for the first time, the “forced” leisure of giving a work of art an extra treat. Frankly, (and still in the context of confession) in retrospect maybe this is the second time, the first being when I was practically confined in my Beirut apartment at the height of the civil war, when even in peaceful Ras Beirut walking around became risky. Additionally, I had a while earlier lost my teaching job in Tripoli due to transportation and commuting interruption due to barricades. That confinement made me start painting. And some of my best works still survive from those days.

In comparison though, this time I am in solitary confinement, as I receive no visitors. This gives me even more time and allows for greater variety in the same search for pastime. I did painting, screen print as well as type design. I hope to be finishing the drawings for two new typefaces. And this notwithstanding, I still follow up on my design business activity from my confinement, with other company colleagues as well as clients. A major novelty is I find myself-so unlike my prior style of life- looking after my food and other daily livelihood affairs. So in a way it’s house arrest with hard labor.


Do you think this sudden devastating development will lead to change in the world? And if so, how?

Still confessing, maybe the excessive preoccupation with a variety of works of art became a means to escape from the tragic scenes, this sudden tsunami of sickness and mortality across the world. It’s deeply disturbing. I watch snatches of tv news and hastily put it off. A true horrific nightmare. Not being sure we can foretell the extent of the devastation, are we close to the climax or still much more and much worse should be expected, it’s hard to tell. There are few glimpses of medical hope. But one keeps asking where is all the progress in medical sciences, and where is the unbeatable artificial intelligence. How helpless humanity appears in front of this vicious virus. But it’s just a virus!

This said some irreversible changes seem to have already taken place, but the major ones are yet to be watched for. I won’t be surprised if drastic uprisings could turn certain countries

upside down. At times I get a glimpse of vision that maybe we will all wake up from this nightmare to a different world. Hopefully a better one: that has less from all that was burdening our lives, and more from all the we yearn for in cleaner environment, urban peaceful beauty, and humane society, with art paramount.


From the simple pleasures of an active life, what do you miss the most? And what you don’t miss?

I miss meeting close friends, corner Cafes and beautiful restaurants, a jazz evening and a mountain drive in springtime!

And I don’t miss all the rest that you can guess-:)


To avoid boredom, what do you suggest to our readers:

No doubt connecting with friends and acquaintances (including forgotten ones) through social media in dialogues or even in sharing of interesting posts seems paramount. On the other hand and without wishing to sound traditional, but I whole heartedly believe that reading anything, best classic novels in whichever language one pleases. A great absorbing novel can really bridge a good lapse of time, and give one a lot of good feeling. Then those good movies that you have missed, also interesting documentaries and YouTube interviews and lectures. Puzzles and desk games come next. Some smart phone entertainment is not bad too.


A word of encouragement

We surely one and all need a word of encouragement. We are in the midst of a situation that no one seems to have any definite capability to confront and to overcome. All we have is a reassurance that humanity has bridged similar outbreaks and survived. There seems to be glimpses of hope on the rise despite the slow arrival. For us comrades of confinement we should make sure we stay safe. This said I believe this confinement could ultimately turn into a precious period of ‘focused meditation’, if I may say so. A deep soul search, a bold review of one’s vision and even role in life. if it could turn around societies



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