‘Le Tarbouche‘ is not only a beautiful and thought-provoking exhibition by French Lebanese artist Mouna Rebeiz but it is also a personal one!
Being linked from my maternal side to the ‘Bey’ Family in Tunis, all the way through Iskender Chelebi (İskender Çelebi) (the long-serving defterdar ‘finance minister’ of the Ottoman Empire during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent) , The Tarbouche , an emblem of the Ottoman empire, poised elegantly in the majority of my family’s old photos and was an indispensable component of my maternal’s ancestry.
Muhammad VIII al-Amin Last Bey of Tunisia
when the Saatchi gallery in London opened its doors on the 26th of February for a private viewing of the collection. I felt that I belonged.
Her work cleverly explores the female form to express its complexity by using the predominantly male Tarbouche . Her works represent women as both dominant and submissive, sophisticated and vulnerable. These female nudes wearing the male symbol of virility are being used as a contradiction and token of female authority.
Mouna Rebeiz was born into a family of artists and showed her own creative talent from a very early age. She says that human beings and their psyche have always fascinated her, which is why she studied a Masters degree in Psychology.
Me & the artist
In 1995, Mouna began at the Cepiade Studio and met Alix De La Source, a specialist of 17th and 18th century painting techniques. Alix introduced her to techniques of the Grand masters and helped Mouna to develop her own personal style. She quickly adopted a wonderful ability for capturing life and energy in her artwork.
Me trying to ‘pose’ coyly
Mouna mainly exhibits her work in Paris, however she recently had a show in London at Art 13: Gallery Meshkati Fine Art. Her current exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery is her first solo exhibition in London.
The coolest guy at the exhibition
A Tarbouche , ‘Tarboosh’ or ‘Fez’ is a recognised close fitting, flat topped, brimless hat that is worn by men in the Middle East and the Levant as a symbol of virility . But not in this exhibition! :-p
The Tarbouche project
Through her paintings, the artist represents an act of hope. The symbol of the Tarbouche is designed to build a bridge between two worlds – the East and West, man and woman.
As part of the Tarbouche project, Mouna has asked a number of internationally known fashion designers and artists to each create their version of the Tarbouche, which are being auctioned live at Sotheby’s and online via the Gavel & Grand website. Some of the influential names taking part in the Tarbouche project include (my favourites) Elie Saab, Gismondi, Rykiel and Lanvin.
All proceeds from their individually styled Tarbouches, as well as proceeds from the sale of Mouna’s paintings will go to Innocence in Danger, a charity close to the artist’s heart.
Innocence in Danger
Innocence in Danger is a worldwide charity that aims to protect children against any form of sexual abuse. The charity is made up of activists, internet specialists, lawyers and policy makers, who all work together to raise international awareness and make positive change.
Recently in the UK, Innocence in Danger has been working on changing the legislation around the mandatory reporting of known and suspected child abuse in regulated activities. The charity is also working on delivery a UK Educational Programme for parents, schools and children on how to stay safe online.
It is a fantastic charity and we look forward to finding out just how much Le Tarbouche project and Mouna’s paintings raise for it.
If you would like to donate to Innocence in Danger, simply text ‘INNOCENCE’ to 70970, or visit
http://innocenceendanger.org for more information about the charity.