Michel Karsouny, an Enigma of all Sorts

With his self-initiated paintings, TV commercial voice-overs and design firm The Konstrukt, Michel Karsouny is one of those people we all envy, who divide their time so well and are able to tackle more than a single career. It'd be difficult to define his profession and I'm sincerely curious as to what he introduces himself as. Here, I feature him as a fine artist.  

Michel graduated from the American University of Beirut with a BFA in graphic design and an emphasis on fine arts. While auditing fine art courses at the Lebanese University, he launched The Konstrukt, an illustration-based design firm. Currently he is enrolled in a three-year online painting program with The Art Department (TAD).

He isn't the only one going for online graduate schooling. With the limitations of decent art programs in the country, more students are opting for its wide possibilities (see TAD Entertainment Design 2D student Jad Saber).

© Michel Karsouny
His paintings are worthy of their own feature; large, black-and-white oil/acrylic hypnotic compositions generally dominated by black, though totally unpredictable. They're certainly not for the migraine-susceptible; their inceptive structure will get you gawking in confusion, abusing the capabilities of your corpus callosum in an attempt to decipher the image.

Michel's process is particular to his style; he delves into his subjects' innermost being through interaction, only to develop an exhaustive work on them by fusing composition, creativity and extracurricular research. The result is a stylistic piece on his interpretation of his subject, a truly exhaustive representation. 

He only recently returned from a voice-over workshop in Washington. He doesn't fall short from an interesting background, and a conversation with the artist is bound to be entertaining.

© Michel Karsouny

She Smelled of Daisies
© Michel Karsouny

I chatted with Michel on the topic of his works.

Bananapook: Do you begin with a layout in your works? 

Michel Karsouny: It all depends on the piece. It's pretty much intuitive as soon as the work begins (after getting to know my subject well and after researching). Sometimes, I develop different elements alone and then start thinking of how to tie them in together. Other times, I have a rough idea of the movement in a composition and then fill in the gaps.

Self-portrait with Dog and Wife
© Michel Karsouny

B: What aspect of the human psyche interests you most?

MK: Weaknesses. They make us who we are. They push us to compensate and rebel; be the people we are. The competitive perfectionist, the responsible organizer, the rebel, the diva...etc. Usually, I look for moments in a person's life that defines who he is then develop imagery accordingly.

B: Do you intend on taking your paintings to a commercial level?

MK: I only take commercial jobs that I feel I can apply my model/system of working on. If not, I usually revert to the different styles I've used in commercial work that you can find on Karsouny.com.

Comme un Accident de Bagnole
© Michel Karsouny

B: Your TAD graduate schooling focuses on painting. Are you hoping to contribute gained skills to your design firm or to your paintings?  

MK: This is probably a consequence to the education I'm getting since my main goal is to make it as a painter. That has been my dream ever since I was a kid. Now I'm finally given the opportunity to seek it. 

B: Do you really sketch in raves? 

MK: Yes! Best thing to do when I'm dancing and am really in the mood - I let my hand talk intuitively. It reveals new ideas, new compositions, a different line, new subjects. I love it. I usually use a lot of these sketches in building new pieces. Music carries me, doesn't make me think, and I need that from time to time.

© Michel Karsouny

B: Are you a telephone doodler? (i.e. one that doodles as they chat on the phone). I only ask because I’m a telephone doodler myself, and those are my best doodles!

MK: Not at all. I'm very straight to the point on the phone. Point A to point B and move on.

B: Not a big fan of color, huh?

MK: I am, as you would see in my other pieces. But I'm also a huge fan of black and white. The contrast it gives, the tension. Especially in this series where there are so many elements, and a very charged composition. 

© Michel Karsouny

B: How does AUB compare to the Lebanese University in terms of fine arts programs?

MK: The Lebanese University is very technical [and is] less conceptual than AUB. So I think I got a good balance of both. The use of materials and observation in the Lebanese University, versus thinking about what you want to communicate and how to do it in AUB. 

B: To escape from Beirut or to feed on it?

MK: Both. Sometimes to overwhelm myself with it, but at other times to run away from it for other inspiration, time off and a step back. We all know we need it sometimes.  


To see more of Karsouny's works, like his FB page, follow him on Twitter and check out his website. If you want to hear Karsouny's voiceovers, visit the dedicated FB page. 

All images on Bananapook are copyrighted material and all rights are reserved to the respective artists. 


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