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DOMUS BERYTUS, GILBERT HALABY
I Recall The Light I was born in a village on Mount Lebanon during the war - luckily and unluckily, but this is a story to be told at a later date. I spent my tender years playing around with my friends in the fields and around the village houses. I had the good fortune of meeting many characters brimming with spellbinding stories; those stories helped shape my untamed imagination. It is one of these characters that I remember vividly, and who holds a special place in my memories.
The only painter of my village. A beautiful human being, introvert and calm. His daughters were my sister’s friends and I used to come up with any excuse to join her when she visited them, just so I could have a peak at his marvellous studio and see him transforming canvases into tales of wonder. It was there and then that I saw the light that was inside of me. Being a boy in a Lebanese village during the war wasn’t always easy. Being a painter in the horizons of that boy was an absolute impossibility.
I had no alternative but to suppress that light with a very dark and heavy cloud, as I sought to create a parallel self that would offer me financial stability and the ‘manly’ future that was expected of me. For being a painter, an artist, in the mountains of Lebanon in the 1980s was considered merely a hobby and never a Man’s job. Despite this, my need to create compelled me to do so in different forms particularly writing during my school years. I would also paint and create objects of art, but I would always downplay it to avoid being judged by friends and the society I was living in. Yet that dark and heavy cloud could not blot out the light that had never dimmed inside of me. For it was that light which encouraged me to leave Lebanon and set me forth on the odyssey of the search for Myself. It took more than 20 years.
Now I have finally flung open the windows to that shining light and made great peace with it. Finally I made peace with myself and became the painter that I always was. Finally I became my own, friend, father, brother and sister, and I encouraged that light to become tales. Finally I started to resemble the painter I met when I was a child. Finally I became that painter I was when I was a child.
Beirut, Museum and Urban Cultural Center