Deep beauty

 

Sammoun received a degree at the School of Arts and Crafts in Beirut (l’Ecole des Arts et Metiers de Beyrouth). He began to draw with pen and ink when he was 13, and his work ethic translated into excellence in both science and art.

At age 21, Sammoun decided to immigrate to Montreal where he went on to study electronic engineering and proceeded to earn masters degrees in engineering and telecommunications at the Ecole Polytechnique. Sammoun then began his career at Videotron, Canada’s third largest cable company, and worked his way up to the Vice President of Planning, Systems, Integration and Intellectual Properties for Videoway, a wholly owned subsidiary of Videotron.

The marriage to his wife, Yvette, a pharmacist, at age 28, marked the beginning of a creative time for Sammoun whose energy only increased after his son was born. At that time, he decided once again to paint, as his desire since childhood had been to be an artist and creator. From that point forward, Sammoun would hold himself to the task of landscape painting with greater energy, effort and focus than ever before. An avid learner and observer, he quickly grew into a man of culture and sophistication, and began to appreciate poetry, philosophy and prose. Since that rime, both his careers in electronics and art have prospered, and he has balanced his life with considerable effort and dedication.

The world around Sammoun is what inspires him most. Painting a wide variety of themes, he explains: “I cannot paint what I have not experienced. My canvas draws the viewer into the scene, as the foreground is the most important part of my paintings. I work quickly, and the brushstrokes are ‘wet on wet’ and layer upon layer.”

His works are rhythmic and spontaneous and filled with texture. The scenes are calming and tranquil, multi-dimensional, with nuances of color and patterns of light that are not immediately apparent to the viewer. Apple trees in bloom, wheat fields, rows of lupines, olive trees, cityscapes, rural villages, street scenes and churchyards are just some of his themes. Most recently, a series of beach scenes, resulting from his experiences have been created.

Early on in his painting career, Sammoun decided it was necessary to gain an intimate knowledge of the great masters, so together with his wife he embarked on several tours of international museums and galleries to further his knowledge. Trips to Italy and France to see the work of the great masters left him awestruck and humbled. In 1999, already having a long-nurtured passion for Vincent Van Gogh, he flew to Amsterdam where the centennial anniversary of the painter’s death was being held. Van Gogh’s “impassioned strokes and graphic strength” would leave an unforgettable mark on Sammoun’s artistic sensibility and approach.

Travels to London followed. The artist explored the Royal Academy of the Arts and the Tate Museum. Sammoun was so moved by the impressionist work of Camille Pissarro that he called him “my painter.” Pissarro, often remembered as “the father of Impressionism” painted works that conveyed incredible life. Trips in the United States and Canada ensued and further enforced Sammoun’s belief in the tremendous possibilities of art, its beauty and sensibility.

Sammoun is an impassioned artist and holds his craft to the highest standards. Meticulous in his creations, Sammoun paints with sable hair brushes because “painting is a very subtle and delicate act.” He usually works on jute and linen to support his thick layers of paint. He says the end result is “a painting of greater depth and vibrancy, and the rough surface gives me the feeling that I can shape each work uniquely. I build up each of my works in a very sculptural sense.”

An instinctive colorist, Sammoun’s palette is rich and varied, featuring more than 30 colors and shades. He first prepares the canvas with a thin layer of paint, usually burnt sienna, and spreads it with a natural bristle brush. He then rubs the pigment with a household tissue into the grain of the canvas, allowing some of the whiteness of the coarse fabric to show through. Each canvas is prepared for its own unique tone and varied effect. His desire is to authentically render nature’s textures on the canvas. He relies on a special “impasto” technique, by which he positions dabbles of paint of varying colors and shades, each stroke unique with a special dimensionality. Contrasts in hues make each piece striking with special iridescence.

The artist also soaks his brush with a variety of colors and then delicately places the brush to the canvas with a controlled spin. The result of the technique is a magnificent multi-colored stroke.

The depth of his landscapes are most appreciated from the correct distance–when the entire depth of a scene will suddenly appear to the observer in its full three-dimensional wonder as soothing, calming and reflective.

Sammoun’s regard and love for his family has had a deep impact on his life. They provide inspiration, encouragement and support to him at all times. His wife and two children, Samira-Helene and Jean-Philippe, fill him with pride and admiration, which is a motivating influence of his work. He explains: “It is extremely important for me that my wife and children enjoy my paintings, both the process as I create them and the final result. Without their understanding and recognition of whether one of my works lights up their faces, then I would basically be creating art in a vacuous space.”

Sammoun has been honored with several museum shows of note, including the Marc-Aurele Fortin Museum in Montreal and the Galerie of Friends of the Montreal Museum of Fine Art. His work is also part of the permanent collection of the Plattsburg (New York) State University Museum. An exhibition displaying 50 of his original works will be held in Boston at the Galerie D’Orsay from Oct. 22 through Nov. 17.

A fundamentalist, Sammoun will continue to seek artistic and pictorial frontiers and new ways to convey his message of nature with vigour and vibrancy.

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