For Artist and Photographer MUSTAFA SABBAGH, Real beauty stands witness to personal stories- it touches, stings and cuts but does not reassure.
Photography MUSTAFA SABBAGH
By RADHINA ALMEIDA COUTINHO
Sabbagh has said that for him, perfection represents the true nightmare of contemporary man. What his images present time and time again is the desecration of perfection to reveal virtually limitless idiosyncrasies and variations. “Dark circles from too much work, or too much pleasure. Veins pulsing life. That rough, raw beauty between Caravaggio and Pasolini. I do not like flat life,” says Sabbagh.
“I do not like things that cannot STING ME, CUT ME, TOUCH ME DEEPLY. That’s why, to me, real BEAUTY HURTS: real beauty does not reassure. Its uncomfortable. “
Nowhere is this ethos of disturbing beauty more strongly expressed than in Sabbagh’s repeated destruction of GENDER stereotypes. His subjects consistently flirt with gender fluidity- men strut proudly in tulle skirts, women wear their hair closely cropped, female chests are bandaged flat while men’s bodies are draped in poses that highlight voluptuous curves.
“Accepting the other as an integral part of our being. Contemporary beauty does not feed on appearance but on essence. Living through truthful gestures, perceiving time as passage rather than as DECAY.
Beauty is looking into ourselves to comprehend the world around us with both temporal and ethical value. “
According to Sabbagh, each gender must be celebrated “but thinking that the human being is a reproductive organ is mere negation of humanistic progress. ” He says,
“Feeling yourself in your own body is the first step towards happiness. Diversity stands as the real sine qua non of the MODERN MAN.”
I feel man or woman in a way beyond these two polarities. The only way is to see eroticism is through their habitat: their house is their skin, their dress is their desire. “
So how does Sabbagh approach the depiction of this complex enigma that is the human body?
“Exactly like Lucio Fontana’s canvases,” he says “Through a few gestures I arrive at the perfect cut.”