An interview with our curated artist of the month – Yolla Hanna
About Yolla and her Art
What is your Name, where are you from and when were you born?
Hello, I’m Yolla Hanna, a Canadian/Lebanese visual artist who was born in Lebanon, educated in the US where I got my B.A. (honours) in Visual Arts & launched my career in Canada, in the fashion industry and now I’m in Dubai.
Tell us something about yourself that you would like our audience to know.
Art is everything that I am because of my dad. He has shaped me, artistically. I grew up watching him do paintings, maquettes, furniture designs and arabesque motifs to name a few while he was a recognized civil engineer. I aspire to be so much like him and I still have a long way to go. I think I have made my dad proud as an artist, and I would like to thank him for being my inspiration.
What is the type/ form/ style of artwork you focus on?
My work is based on textile art. I mainly use raw silk and vintage silk neckties which, at times, are combined with bark-wood, copper leafing and other elements like wool & metallic yarns… The finished pieces are very organic and unique.
Describe your creative process?
My creative process is very instantaneous and is often derived from my memories of my homeland, Lebanon.
How did you commence your journey into Art and what was the first piece of Art that you had crafted?
I have loved art ever since I could remember. Art has had a very big impact on my life.
My dad is an artist by passion and engineer by profession and every weekend our living room would turn into an atelier. During this time, my dad would let me be his little helper – I would get his crayons for him, his paints, and sometimes he would let me mix the colours together.
I vividly remember this moment when he once left the room for few minutes and in front of me was his watercolour piece – which had taken him hours to paint. The sky was a beautiful gradient of shades of blue and purple. I was so tempted to grab his brush and add my touch – a stroke, which I did.
When my dad entered the room he was so shocked that I had ruined his beautiful gradient background, after which – for months – I was not allowed to touch anything until he could trust me again. And now many years later, I let my dad be a part of my world, just as I am part of his.
How has your style changed over the years?
My style definitely has evolved over the years, specifically after coming to Dubai. I have started incorporating a lot of Arabic elements into my art – which is something fresh and something I know little about.
With my education in the United States and work experience in Canada, I never thought about doing any Arabesque inspired work and for me right now, this is a beautiful form of art and I am even more excited to see it unfold into my artworks.
Do you ever experience creative blocks? How do you deal with them?
The creative juices don’t often flow to my heart, head and to my hands. And when I’m in such a situation, I prefer to completely disconnect myself from my art.
Whenever I feel inspired and ready to begin, everything just seems to fall into place.
If you had the chance to dine with an artist, who would it be and why?
My dad has been my biggest inspiration. I love him dearly and I often dedicate pieces I make to him.
As such, I would like to dine with my dad! I would like to sit one-on-one with him in his atelier, have a quick bite to eat, and perhaps listen to Farid Al Atrash music (Al Rabee) and have him talk about his childhood memories, his inspirations, his thoughts and his art processes.
What drives you to create art and where do you get your inspiration from?
Apart from my dad being a huge inspiration for me, the environment I grew up in had a huge impact on me and my art. I was raised in Lebanon around olive mills, fig and grape trees, an extended family, caring neighbours, bustling noises & enchanting smells. These elements are part of my upbringing and you can see in my art.
Who inspires you as a person, and as an artist?
Apart from my father, Georges, one artist that intrigues me is Mark Rothko. He’s an abstract painter and he paints floating blocks of colours that to a regular eye look very easy and simple to make. However, the open space in his paintings and the layering of expressive colours such as deep reds, blacks and vivid blues made him a pioneer in his field.
How do you see the future of art?
Art is everything in my world and I believe that it is present in every single thing we do – breathing, eating, walking or dressing. It’s in our DNA, the blood in our veins, the air we breathe. Art is life!
Coming to Dubai, I was surprised to see how much emphasis is put on art and artists – it is a dream place for any artist, including myself.
I feel so lucky that I am in Dubai and part of the art scene. Art has become our way of living and the dear Emiratis here believe in its positive power on the young generation.
Art gives the message of hope, inclusion and acceptance and Dubai plays such a big role in this.
What is the name of the book that you are currently reading?
My daughter and I picked up a couple of Agatha Christie books and I am currently reading one of them. It goes back to the Egyptian times. A very fun book that is a great stress reliever.
Our brand name is ‘Osheq’ which means Extreme Love or Extreme Passion – what does the word Osheq mean to you as an artist? or what is your own Extreme Love or Osheq story?*
The word itself has such a big meaning – Osheq (deepest and purest love). I can interpret it in so many ways. Osheq is Osheq for life, Osheq for art, for the time you are in, for your family, your children…
As a passionate artist, to me, it’s “Osheq Al fn” (art). Osheq is part of my daily life. It’s everything beautiful. Everything I dream about.
“Osheq Al Nafs” (self or spirit) is also about embracing yourself, accepting your flaws and the way you.