Portrait of a city, Beirut
Born in Beirut, Goguikian witnessed the Lebanese wars of 1975-1990 with the eyes of a young Lebanese Armenian. What she saw contradicted the mind and imagination of any aspiring Lebanese youngster.
She was not given much of a chance to think of a bright future for herself as the country she was living in was suffering a suicidal war. The sons of the city of Beirut had succeeded in ruining the jewel of the Middle East, defacing its beauty and tarnishing its poetic fame.
The city of tolerance and harmony had turned into a city of agony, divisions and hatred. Indeed, in the eyes of Mireille, Beirut and its superb life had degenerated and disintegrated into a pile of rubbles.
As a young emotional and artistically sensitive woman, Goguikian was actively involved in the ups and downs of Beirut and its sways. Mireille was torn between herself and the destiny of the city she was brought up in. Her paintings reflected the city of Beirut divided, torn into parts and departed from its past. Her paintings depicted the buildings destructed, the city cracked, terrorized, bombed and shelled. This was an eyewitness account of a city and its recurring violence. This was how Goguikian was forced to portray Beirut .
After two years of her graduation from ALBA, in 1988, the young artist could not bear any more the suffocating atmosphere of Beirut, which ran contrary to her dreams. Mireille left for France and lived there for six years to discover a new city, very different from Beirut. Arts and life in Paris generated a new perspective in Goguikian. She had a further shift from being a Lebanese Armenian to becoming a French Armenian. Nonetheless, she came back to Beirut as she identified herself more with this city of thousand and one mysteries.
Life in Beirut, however, had changed. There was no more fighting in the streets. Now the battles were being fought in a bit civilized manner, beyond the streets, behind closed doors, on political hippodromes. Only from time to time tension would leak out and spill over to the streets and electrify the city dwellers.
It was time for Goguikian to re-visualize life in the city. Her late-war year’s involvement resurfaced in a more powerful manner. Now, after living her first twenty five years in Beirut and breathing with the city, leaving it for a while and coming back, her old friendship with Beirut, her old love to Beirut inspired new strokes to her brush.
Goguikian saw the tiny harmony dawning in Beirut as the new hope for the revival of the city. And she pushed for it. The painter developed this idea of harmony, added diverse colors to reflect the mood of the city in different occasions of joy and sorrow, agony and pain. This is how Goguikian is inspired to portray Beirut ever since her return from Paris.
Indeed, Goguikian is the talented portraitist of the city of Beirut.
Dr. A. Dakessian