Marwan Sahmarani's studio, Beirut

The Confessions Questionnaire

Your name/nickname.

Only my grandmother gave me a nickname: Mirwan, she didn’t like Marwan. But generally, I am Marwan.

Current mood in one word.

On the surface.

What is your favourite dish?


Tea or coffee?

Coffee. I love making my Turkish coffee in the morning at the studio.

Favourite place you’ve travelled to and why?


What is your favourite artwork?

Maybe right now: ‘The Death of Sardanapalus‘ by Eugene Delacroix.

Favourite movie?

I have a favourite director: Stanley Kubrick.

Favourite book or poem and why?

Two: Rimbaud’ ‘La saison d’enfer‘ was key for me as an adolescent and  Georges Batailles’s ‘Les Larmes d’Eros‘.

Your Life Motto or favourite quote?


Can you describe your favourite building?

Rem Koolhaas’ library in Qatar.

What or who inspires you the most in life?

What i see with my eyes in the present or in the past.

Three unique things about where you live?

The most unique: the horizon looking out at the sea. I always wondered what was beyond it as a child.

What is an object you treasure most?

No favourite object, but I know what is the one I hate the most: my phone.

A piece of advice you’d give to your younger self.

You are doing good enough.

How do you escape a creative block?

Go to the studio and sit until I unblock.

Do you have a favourite colour?

I don’t have one. When there is no yellow, I love Blue.

Favourite art tool?

The Paintbrush.

Is your studio messy or tidy?

Messy. Getting better with age in making it tidy.

Why did you become an artist?

I knew I would become an artist at 3 years old. I drew, I looked at artbooks. It was my vocation.

What is the most challenging or exciting thing about being an artist?

To be free.

Craziest artistic experiment you've tried.

I take risks every time I work. But I did one performance by hanging myself from my feet during an ArtDubai event some years ago. I felt sick for 2 days. Performance is outside my passion.

Funniest criticism you’ve received.


Describe your style in three words.

Messy, violent, bold.

Most memorable artistic achievement.

Every painting is an achievement. It is always the best until the next painting.

Dream collaboration (with someone dead or alive)

I don’t like to collaborate in painting, but I would love to be exhibited with Baselitz or Cecily Brown, or Anselm Kiefer or Barcelo or Dana Schutz.

If you could exhibit anywhere, where would it be?

A large public institution like Tate Modern in London or MOMA in NY.