Samir Sammoun was born in a quaint Lebanese village perched atop the
Chouf Mountain, 40 km south of Beirut. To this day, the artist vividly
recalls the colourful Mediterranean landscape of his childhood. At age
21, Samir immigrated to Canada where he obtained degrees in electronic
engineering and telecommunications. Since graduation, he has pursued
his professional career as well as his passion, painting. Chris Klimantiris,
who began representing Samir Sammoun in 1996, provides an eloquent reaction
to the artist s work. The first time that I saw Samir s paintings,
I was fascinated by his refined technique. I felt like a time traveler,
transported to turn-of-the-century Paris and the Impressionists.
Samir Sammoun does have a unique post-impressionist style and technique.
A great colourist by nature, he has a very rich palette of up to 30
tones and shades. He uses soft, round brushes and works mainly on jute,
a rougher, stronger material than the traditional linen canvas. Jute
is capable of holding the generous amount of material that Samir uses
to create a backdrop. When starting to paint, Samir carefully prepares
his canvas with burnt sienna, which he applies with a pig-bristle brush
then wipes with a rag to remove any excess. His goal is to have the
grain of the canvas show. This technique is used to create the illusion
of light throughout the painting. Layers of paint give a natural texture
to the canvas. The artist s technique, successive voluntary strokes,
generates a certain relief and variation in the shades. The overall
effect can be seen, for example, in Samir s Appletrees in Blossom. The
sky, shining in slight contrast, meets flowers that almost vibrate through
the artist s use of iridescence.
A landscape artist, Samir Sammoun has a vast repertoire of pictorial
themes, e.g. willows, apple trees in bloom, wheat fields, olive trees,
villages, storms, churchyards and streetscapes. His paintings reflect
a tranquil happy mood. This is the art of a man who loves life. As the
artist puts it, I try to make the person looking at my painting feel
the colour of the sky, the temperature of the air, and the breeze in
the apple trees or the wheat stalks.
Sammoun s art should be viewed from a distance of a few feet. At first
glance, his paintings seem blurred. Only when the viewer is at the right
distance does the depth of the relief and scene appear in three dimensions.
Sammoun almost never uses classical perspective. His initial sketch
resembles a few blotches that out- line shadows and basic reference
points in the scene that he has already turned over many times in his
mind. The work is then carried out in the automatiste style that relies
on the number of strokes previously applied. The final result comes
only at the end when the layers of light are placed in the appropriate
places according to the texture generated. Sammoun s subtle touch appears
in his wheat fields series. Here the rhythmic gesture of the artist
combines grace and spontaneity. The delicate touches highlight the slender
stalks and the tufts heavy with grain. The artist knows instinctively
where the impact should be in the painting. At times, it is the canvas
that seems to evolve on its own. It is through this process that I feel
I am playing with the fate of my renderings on the canvas. And it is
from this inspiration that I feel I am the one to harness the fate of
what is to follow.
Samir Sammoun s originality and unique style have caught the attention
of viewers, collectors and art lovers in Canada and the United States.
When he first showed his work at ArtExpo in New York in 1996, the reaction
was immediate and positive.