Kevork Mourad

For the past 2 weekends, I’ve gone to the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto to see the work of Kevork Mourad, who was artist in residence at the Museum. I wasn’t familiar with his work, but was drawn to watch him work because he was combining painting and printmaking. I loved seeing him work last weekend–he combined painting on flexible plastic sheets with mono printing on large pieces of cotton fabric. Some of his work that he’d done earlier in the week was spread out on the floor and I knew I wanted to see the finished work. It is now, through February 24th, hung in 2 large arcs of 3 layers each. He has created a beautiful city. Parts are broken, parts are whole. They conveyed a haunting atmosphere.

Kevork was born in Syria. I heard him telling another visitor last week that he was creating a city where all 3 major religious groups live in peace–harkening back to Spain in, I believe, the 9th and 10th centuries. His work combines spontaneity with musical collaboration. I didn’t get a chance to see the musician who collaborates with him live, but saw them together in the video that was playing near the installation. His work is tremendously inspiring to me. Here’s a few photos I took each week.

Kevork at Aga Khan

Kevork Mourad art

Kevork Mourad Instal

Kevork Mourad Instal2

Kevork Mourad Instal1

Another Heart and A Show

This is another block print I recently made but did not enter in The Heart Show that the other four will be in. I felt this one–another version of a heart of fire–stood outside the series I had made and stood on its own. So, another time and place…

another heart of fire

The Heart Show–January 30 – February 17

Gerrard Art Space, 1475 Gerrard St. East, Toronto

Open Wednesdays to Sundays 2 – 7

Opening Reception–Saturday Feb. 2,  3-6.

Aspects of the Heart

Here are the 4 block prints I’ve made for the upcoming heart show at Gerrard Art Space in Toronto. The gallery has called for submissions of up to four pieces which got me thinking about the four chambers of the heart. This led me to the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. Though I made these prints as a series with the birds, mammals, trees and clouds making different appearances, it wasn’t until I completed all 4 that I saw they could be characters in a story. The Hearts of Fire print in particular brings to mind children’s books.

I enjoyed the process of making these prints. Only the Hearts of Air turned out to my liking after the first proof and I made no corrections to what I had already carved. With Hearts of Earth, I made a few changes after taking a rough proof. But with the other two–water and fire–I carved three renditions of each until I was happy with them. In each case, they ended up with very different designs than those I began with.

Hearts of Earth:

hearts of earth

Hearts of Air:

hearts of air

Hearts of Fire:

hearts of fire

Hearts of Water:

hearts of water

This and That

In December, I saw a tree near the Allan Gardens Conservatory in Toronto in full sun. I believe the tree is a sycamore or plane tree. With the sun full on it, the tree appeared to give off light. Here’s one of the photos I took of it.

In December, I also received a surprise nomination for the Real Neat Blog Award.  Though I ended up not taking the steps to actually receive the award, it was great to be nominated. Thank you petrel41 at Dear Kitty. Some blog!

This week, I finished carving the series of 4 block prints I’m going to enter in The Heart Show later this month. I’ve printed them and they’re now drying. Below is the inked block of Hearts of Air. Yes, the block has a pink surface!

In the Beginning

This is the 2nd block print that I’ve carved out of softoleum over the last two weeks. Softoleum is, as its name suggests, a softer than linoleum carving material. This print, like the one in my previous post, is around 4″ x 6″. I adapted the print from a line drawing I made a few years ago. Here it is, printed as a proof, that’s a rough copy, on newsprint paper.


I’ve been drawn back to my old love of printmaking these past few weeks. I’ve been carving a soft rubbery-like block of a product called softoleum. This is the first of two prints I’ve made so far. As I worked on it, it seemed the animal was saying something about the human hand in the dire condition of much wildlife. The first words that came to me were “We are not amused by your behaviour!” This was followed by “Smarten up humans!” that you see in the print.

I’m working small these days–this print is 4″ x 6″. Here’s a rough proof of the print on newsprint paper.

smarten up

Joy and Despair

This painting began as one related to my father as a teenager.  That image is now hidden under a layer of red and yellow paint.  I was unhappy with the quality of that image because I found myself working in a tight fashion.  In an attempt to free myself, I painted lines and shapes with gestures that felt more energized.

This is what followed.  It surprised me with its joyful air because I began the work on a day of despairing over the latest scientific warnings about climate change.  Painting the image raised my spirits even as I thought: This beautiful world that we desecrate.  At different points in the process, I was reminded of a Persian carpet and the ocean.  My enduring love of seashells has entered the painting.

I used acryl gouache paint and, again, added some directly printed impressions of stamps that I made years ago.