An hour was not enough to truly grasp the intensity of Jane Gemayel’s drawings that rule the heart and baffle the mind. Emotions you did not know you had will start to come in a quiet succession of gasps and sighs… and I gasped and sighed a lot.

Jane knows, in fact “Alice” (in Wonderland her alter ego) knows better; how emotions can rush to the surface when faced with the strong body of her work; she has seen it time and again. Jane’s work can make people cry …with recognition of something deeply rooted within one’s soul, be it past pain or joy, a moment forgotten or revisited. Her sense of accomplishment is enormous, for she is giving back to the people that which they have sought to no avail. Women are her inspiration: bonding, yearning, dancing, hiding together or apart but always solid and present. Seek the eye, the fish, the cross or the peacock within the folds of their gowns or the geometric shapes her women appear in. Her black pigment ink sketches are so meticulously executed but when asked: how or why? She simply shrugs her slender shoulders and quietly replies with her endearing lilt: “I don’t know.” What of the tattered edged hearts filled with the knowing, ever seeing eyes? She continues to shake her head.It is as infuriating as it is endearing; art seems to simply flow through her fingers and out of her pens with no apparent aforethought.

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There is nothing normal about Jane’s life, in fact she loathes “normality”; she doesn’t cook, abhors grocery shopping and is lucky enough not to have to worry about that. Jane has the daily discipline of a Jedi warrior: up at 8.30 a.m., she swims laps in her pool and then settles in the corner of her L shaped sofa with her pads and pigment pens beside her as content as the Cheshire cat. Her art is her “True Ecstasy”: if she was made to join the ranks of the Monaco Stepford Wives Club she would simply cease to exist or as Jane aptly puts it: “Alice wouldn’t live here anymore…” How do I describe Jane? She has wisdom and an inner calm that is uncannily otherworldly yet there is nothing eerie about this classy lady. She is perpetual motion incarnate, a skittish colt with incredible style and grace. Where does she hope to go from here?

“I am a Capricorn, Reem…a mountain goat who loves the summit. I have always done the small things knowing that they will lead me to greater ones… If not why do them?” Canadian born, Monaco based Jane Gemayel is married to a charming Lebanese gentleman whose laugh is as infectious as his smile.She started out in advertising, more specifically organizing ad campaigns and fashion shoots for the fur industry. She divided her time between Montreal and New York in the 80’s when life was good and work was generous. She laughingly says that she “got tired at 29…and moved to Paris on a sabbatical. There around 2006/07, she started her compulsive sketching and with no formal training she intuitively honed her art until about a year and a half ago when it all started to make poetic sense. She tenderly refers to this period as: “Coming out of the closet”. She has archived photos of over 500 drawings, not counting her many portfolios that cover several projects that she has worked on with religious zeal. She has illustrated the Alphabet from A to Z making learning more than fun but a work of art. But the project that has truly singled out her one of a kind talent out is her meticulously researched and beautifully created drawings that accompany and underline the forceful words of Gibran Khalil Gibran’s: “The Prophet”. This veritable tour de force led her to meet the enigmatic Steve Barakatt, a Canadian UNICEF ambassador, composer and pianist with whom she is collaborating on a symphony of Gibran’s “The Prophet” where her drawings will be used as the visuals.

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It starts with: a square, a circle or a triangle.

Every day a fresh page is on hand and every day Jane works for eight hours, 12 when her husband is away on business. The drawing is finished when her pen lifts off the page, be it 1 in the morning, she never adds a single stroke other than the white washes and splashes of colour in certain places that give them depth and shimmer. “It is like a game”as she fondly refers to it, when nib comes to paper that is when the magic starts with a small square, a circle or a triangle.

The intricacies of her drawings may have you searching for that spark that ignited her fire; she will find it for you every time. There are hidden symbols like messages everywhere if you choose to seek them: the all-seeing eye, the fish, the peacock and always the grounding cross: “an indication to find our way in an apparently chaotic world”…a direction be it to heaven or hell, up or down…the duality in choices foisted upon us. Her drawings are complex and yet inherently liberating, for they instill a peace of mind that not only unburdens but unleashes something within us; call it a collective need to create.

“I can’t wait to go to sleep…that is the best part of the day, so that I can wake up in the morning and draw.”

What’s next for Jane? “The 7 Deadly sins”: an exciting project that will depict Pride and Jealousy having lunch together (art imitating life in Monaco?) There has been talk of an exhibition, not a minute too soon for her drawings are literally bursting out of her closet and itching to be shared. Alice fell down the rabbit hole and here she has decided to stay, sheltered within the walls of her magnificent home where naysayers are as unwelcome as noise of the everyday world.

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