Born in New Brunswick to Lebanese settlers, Chantal Khoury recently completed her Master of Fine Arts at the University of Guelph. In her work, she explores cultural loss and presence in a postcolonial condition while questioning the meaning of the mark in abstract painting. Drawing inspiration from a diversity of scholars and artists from the Global South, she uses traditional painting techniques to address the diaspora through a contemporary methodology, leveraging paint’s versatility through the lens of abstraction.
The jury found the depiction of light in Khoury’s paintings visually striking and beautiful, and they were captivated by the fluidity and variety of painting techniques. They appreciated the careful balancing act between the apparent simplicity of the compositions and the complex hints of representation, with traces of obliterated figures emerging from the works.
With the award, Khoury will spend one year abroad, equally divided between London, Paris, and Lebanon. During this period of great freedom, she plans to not only study great works and explore collections of cultural artefacts. She is also eager to reconnect with her family’s heritage by visiting culturally and historically relevant places in Lebanon, as well as get involved in community and scholarly pursuits pertinent to her work: “I’m also eager to engage with other Arab diasporas who hold community-oriented workshops […]”. In London, she plans to meet with her former MFA external committee member, artist, and writer, Mandy Merzaban, to continue their exchange from a decolonial perspective.