In the Studio with Christine Safa

Christine Safa’s practise seeks to eternalise her memory and sensations of her experiences of the Middle East in oil paint. This month we asked Christine about her inspirations and more about her relationship with Lebanon.

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist? 

I’ve always been painting and drawing from a very young age. I think as soon as I accepted that I wanted my life to revolve around reading, learning, taking time and being in a constant stage of contemplation, I began to see myself as an artist. It’s a way of living, a luxury to spend every day dedicated to painting and research.

What’s your background? Has this impacted your work as an artist?

I’m Lebanese-born, but I’ve always lived near Paris. We would go back to Lebanon because my family is there,  3 or 4 times a year since I can remember. Even though I was raised it France, I could feel, and still feel, connected to the Middle Eastern culture.

My stays in Lebanon have always been the time in which I could really see myself grow and think, contemplate, write, be grateful and overwhelmed by what I was experiencing.


Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. Have you gone through the traditional route of art school and what was your experience? 

I can say that yes, I have gone through the traditional route of art school. I’ve graduated from the Beaux Arts de Paris in 2018 and before that I had a year of preparatory art school. 

 What’s the message of your work? Are there themes/narratives/purpose? Where do they come from? 

My paintings are like a testimony of a certain state of contemplation, an impression of an instant, remembrances of what can be called moments of perfection. 

As I paint, draw, I create the outline and forms of fragments of ruins of memories, which welcome and endure time.

The time of contemplation, absorption of the things that I perceive.

The time it takes for things to come to my eye, the images never stop appearing to me after leaving the place of contemplation. 

The time of painting.

Figures and images from my memory overlap and interact; become horizons.

Horizons that vary, the figures settle there, disappear, become a single layer of paint, thick or barely perceptible.

Color becomes saturated or lets the light show through; light sometimes dark from a sunset.

Who and what are your greatest influences? 

I’ve been feeling really close to Etel Adnan for a long time now, close to her writings and drawings especially. I’ve been looking at Hilma Af Klint, Agnes Martin, Richard Diebenkorn, Milton Avery also the past few years alongside Italian painters of the early renaissance.

I’ve been recently looking to old pictures of Beirut and Lebanon in general to learn even more about the mountains, trees, horizons and figures I know and paint. 

Mount Tamalpais, 2000, Etal Adnan

What are your ideal conditions for creating a good piece of work?

Time and a mostly clean and organized studio.

What are your plans for the future? 

I have some group shows planned, what with everything going on I don’t know if anything is going to happen but as I said, time is something to cherish when it comes to painting.

I am also still going to make paintings on paper to sell in order to raise money for Lebanon, and might be thinking of making an edition with some writings.


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