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Remembrance, thought and memory in the art of Stéphanie Saadé


Art assumes various forms, with the simpler ones often conveying a more profound meaning


Nostalgia, isolation from her surroundings, and a sense of being out of place are central to Stéphanie Saadé’s conception of her work.

After graduating in Fine Arts from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Saadé attended a post-graduate program at the China Academy of Arts in Hangzhou, China.

She was then artist-in-residence at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, Holland, and later at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris.

Travel to a foreign land and the emotions of being far from home play a role in her best known works.

The artist explores the forms of distance, making them visible, along with the changes of an individual who has experienced this separation from her birthplace.

The nature of relationships and connections, their constancy or ephemerality, is questioned.

The bonds and links created form pairs, which are never duplicated.

Individual objects are made up of differences brought together.

Her art is based on a message, on a simple recounting of something more profound, like a phone whose screen shows the distance between the artist and the work, a form of dialogue and communication with the observer that transcends simple language

Currently, she is an artist-in-residence at the Villa Empain, Fondazione Boghossian, in Brussels.

Still, why choose gold for her creations?

“Gold has always been used in sacred art, associated with everything that is precious or somehow superior,” says Stéphanie in an interview. “Many metals are clear and bright, but gold leaf remains. For me, it has an aspect of eternity, which connects my work, as a sort of legacy, with works from antiquity.”

The material is, therefore, used to give some of its immortality to the parts, like a bridge between the ancient and the new.

Her works will be exhibited in the exhibition “Home Beirut. Sounding the Neighbors” at Rome’s MAXXI (Museum of 21st Century Arts), beginning 15 November 2017.

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This exhibition is the third chapter of her “Mediterranean Trilogy”, an exhibition cycle through which MAXXI explores the interaction between artistic communities in Europe and the Middle East.

The specific focus of this exhibition is Beirut, a place extraordinarily rich in cultural diversity and creative energy, despite all the difficulties caused by the various conflicts that have hit the country over the last few decades.

The memory of a war, experienced firsthand by Lebanon’s artists, is present in most of the works produced in Beirut.

The experience of conflict and the trauma of having to repeatedly abandon her country are turned into an art that seeks to document what has been personally experienced.

Here are the works by Saadé in the exhibition:


A Map of Good Memories, 2015, 24-kt gold leaf, 150 x 300 cm.

The artist recalls twenty beautiful memories of her life in Lebanon, starting from her childhood until today.

Retracing her own memories, she drew the trajectories of encounters with loved ones and visits to familiar places, which she then assembled into the work, respecting their scale and orientation to form a closed shape.

Using her past, and various geographic locations, the drawn signs form an intimate, sentimental terrain, outlining the edges of a geographical self-portrait.

The work was covered with gold using a water mordant gilding technique, using both booklets of loose gold leaf and gold leaf transfers, all in 24 kt with an 80 x 80 mm format.

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Other significant works in which the use of gold leaf has been important for conveying a sense of memory, intimacy, and the eternity of all that is sacred include:


Golden Memories, 2015, old photograph, 24-kt gold leaf, 10 x 14.5 cm

A photograph from the artist’s childhood is covered with gold leaf.

No longer accessible, this memory from the past now reflects current reality.

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Lost Intimacy, 2014

An upside-down stool reveals its structure.

Gold solder, nails, and staples support the structure.

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Travel diary, 2014 – 2016

Gold leaf has been applied to damage suffered by the travel documents used by the artist to travel to and from home.

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