Listen to the article

Simply stepping into downtown’s Maya Artspace gallery immediately immerses you in the striking universe of Lebanese painter Fulvio Codsi. His retrospective, Regeneration, is currently on display until April 26. Join us for a private and exciting tour and meet the artist himself.

“The first time I entered the gallery and saw all my canvases arranged, I was a bit shocked,” Fulvio shares with a smile. Indeed, about 20 of his works are presented, with the oldest dating from 1996 and the most recent completed in 2020. A true artistic life unfolds before us; we only need to savor the moment and contemplate his work.

The enigmatic title of this retrospective, Regeneration, is no coincidence and echoes the painter’s impressive career. He explains that the choice of term is linked to his latest work of the same name in the retrospective. This painting, with its gray background nuanced with blue and a central circle surrounded by organic forms reminiscent of tentacles, embodies the idea of renewal. For Fulvio, “The organic circle symbolizes vitality. The tentacles engulf the squares that represent all that is not good.” Thus, the aspiration of negative elements by a vital force creates something new and positive. This marks the beginning of Regeneration.

Regeneration Acrylic on canvas 200 x 200 cm 2019

His canvases transport us to another dimension, feet on the ground but mind in the clouds, as the saying goes. This dreamlike dimension is also one of Fulvio’s inspirations throughout his art. “I’ve gone through several creative phases during my career. In the early 2000s, my dreams were my main source of inspiration,” the artist confesses.

“I do not wish to depict the realities that surround us; instead, I attempt to generate an imaginary world in which I reveal my moods regarding things I love or dislike.”

Now, it is his desire to “create an imaginary world” that guides his canvases. Fulvio expresses it precisely. “Reality is horrible, it doesn’t interest me.” This statement particularly resonates in the current context. It’s one more reason to dive body and soul into this dreamy and enchanting retrospective.

“My initial idea, I always imagine it in motion,” the painter specifies. He succeeds since the characters, as well as the forms, seem to step out of the frame and come to life before us. His use of various mediums and his background as a 2D animator might explain this impression. In addition to acrylic, Fulvio uses a rather unique tool in the art world, the airbrush, notably “to create these shadow and volume effects.”

As Above So Below Acrylic on canvas 100 x 100 cm (x2) Diptych 2020

There’s movement in these canvases, but also in his fluctuating creative process. He recounts that at the beginning of his career, he wanted his art “to move as far away from reality as possible.” His characters illustrated this with a longitude expressed by the artist in their depiction. From 2017, he expresses a “desire to become more realistic” in his painting. This change occurred following his experience at ALBA as an anatomy drawing teacher. Now, his approach is different: “Sometimes, I paint with a title and a message already in mind, which guides my creation. Other times, it’s the opposite: I start without a clear idea and let inspiration guide me.” However, for most of his canvases, he creates detailed and finished sketches that he then develops into large formats, requiring many preliminary studies.

Whatever his approach, his meticulous and thoughtful work is reflected in every piece since the beginning of his career. Indeed, he prepares his works by conducting detailed preliminary studies and taking precise measurements. “These sketches allow me to have a miniature vision of my final canvas, which helps me determine the ideal placement of the different elements.” This effort is felt in all his canvases, but perhaps particularly in his diptychs, which he creates with the possibility of inverting and reversing to give another meaning to his painting.

Another intriguing canvas from his retrospective is particularly eye-catching. The canvas’s nuanced gray background gives the impression of being in a cloud and creates a mysterious atmosphere. At the center of this composition, a sphere draws attention, possibly symbolizing a representation of the world or the universe. A multitude of hands emerging from the sphere, gesturing signs that represent communication elements from different countries, add a cultural and universal dimension to the work. The artist reveals that the model is drawn from his own hands, thus explaining this clarity of line.

Manusphaera Acrylic on canvas 200 x 200 cm 2016

To conclude this guided tour, Fulvio explains humbly, “I don’t focus on selling my canvases when I create them, and this allows me to paint without thinking about this commercial aspect. When someone asks me for my interpretation of my paintings, I prefer to know their perspective first, as this enriches my understanding of my own work and gives me new ideas for future creations.”

The exhibition also blends various cultures, civilizations and ethnicities, reflecting Fulvio’s sources of inspiration. His works incorporate elements from Pharaonic, Asian, South American and occasionally Celtic origins, resulting in a striking visual narrative.

Written by Léna Dib

Photo credits: Maya Art Space

Instagram: @fulviocodsi