I had started doing watercolors, but casually, with friends. My mother was away at the time, so I settled myself in the dining room with oils. When she came back she said, “Hey, you’re ruining my carpets!” So, I rented a studio of my own and moved there. I lived alone, which nobody did at the time. Not men, not anyone… On the roof, there was a small apartment with two rooms and a living room. I had a big mirror and a bar for dancing… There was a big wall I could paint on, too. I always painted standing up. I lived there until 1974, then I moved again, also to a top-floor studio, this time with a perfect view of Mount Sannine…
The first paintings were like self-discovery, like being born. They were very colorful, very lush, probably because I would go to the forests of the Chouf District for inspiration. But, little by little, my attachment to color evolved into a fascination with white. I remember the painter Paul Guiragossian came to see me and said, “Of course you paint in white, all you see is light here on the 11th floor.”…
Fadi Barrage was one of my closest friends. He was a painter. He later moved to Athens, where he died in 1988. In addition to Guiragossian, there was Huguette Caland and, of course, Etel Adnan. I met Etel at the end of 1972, when she came to Beirut to be the culture editor of the Lebanese newspaper, Al Safa. — Simone Fattal
Written, produced, and directed by Simone Fattal.
Cinematography by Pierre-Henri Magnin.
Edited by Eugénie Paultre.
46 minutes. In French, with English subtitles.
Simone Fattal, Autoportrait (1972 / 2012). Images courtesy and © the artist.