“I Am Here” covers a series of works started in 2010 to create an artistic discourse to understand and challenge issues that Guiragossian has been dealing with throughout her life such as identity, existence, and survival as human beings, specifically a woman.
Using joyful and childish candor with bursts of color and strange creatures to tackle the darkest times in her life from the Lebanese Civil War to the current horrors in the country and the world; Manuella portrays resistance against corruption and violence. With characters that raise their hands up in order to be seen, saying “I Am Here”, she attracts attention to the injustice and discriminations women and children face in the world today creating a small escape and relief through dark times.
Manuella Guiragossian (Beirut) is an Armenian-Lebanese artist who works in a variety of media including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, animation and video.
She attended the California Institute of the Arts, graduating in 2002 with a BFA in Fine Arts, Film and Video with a specialization in Character Animation. She was based in Los Angeles until 2002 and then moved to Dubai for work in 2003 before returning to Beirut in 2010 to establish the Paul Guiragossian Foundation.
Manuella grew up during the Lebanese civil war and spent most of her time with her celebrated father, Paul Guiragossian, at his studio, where she received her original training. To shield her from the atrocities of the ongoing war, her father surrounded her with art.
Living each instant of the 15-year war, her imagination became her escape. Her artistic universe separated her from the gruesome reality and prompted her to create a unique artistic language that shifted away from subjects of violence.
To this day, this remains a distinct feature of her art.
Manuella says, “I refuse to give more of my time to war by portraying it in my art. A child’s imagination and unconscious is so strong and honest that there is
no need to use symbolism to convey an idea. It’s pure and simple and naturally beautiful. This is why I constantly try to tap back into my childhood to re-create that world, which is the only place where I could find refuge from the ugly realities that surrounded us on a daily basis. I try to find peace there and then share it with the rest of the world.”
Manuella is currently based in Beirut and has participated in numerous group exhibitions and art fairs in addition to solo shows in Beirut, Paris, Los Angeles, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Muscat, Kuwait, Amsterdam and Singapore.