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Sunday in the Park with Tom

Marwan Chamaa’s series “Sunday in the Park with Tom” is an illustrated letter to “Tom”. Tom i.e. Tom Wesselmann is one of the artists that Chamaa looks up to. Using vignettes from Wesselmann’s works and mixing them with global brands to visually narrate Marwan’s letter to Tom. The letter/ series describes a journey many Lebanese made after the Lebanese financial meltdown in 2019 and the devastating Beirut port explosion in 2020.

All the paintings in this series are survivors from the deadly explosion which was less than 1km away from Marwan’s studio in Beirut. Little did he know when he started the series is that the same fate described in the letter will happen to him and his family who live now in the USA.


Sunday, December 19, 2021

Dear Tom:


I hope that all is well at your end. I have been so busy since moving from Beirut; the last months have been surreal... so much happened between the revolution, covid, the port explosion, and deciding to leave that I have not had the time to sit and write. Now that I’m enjoying a sunny day in the park, here’s an update on what has been going on in the past weeks.

The first thing I did when I arrived was to go to the Apple Store to buy the latest iPhone, I can see you rolling your eyes while you are reading this. I know, you are not impressed, but I have been dreaming of this multi-lens camera! Used my latest acquisition to Google a real-estate agent to rent a flat; I actually found it in record time. I bought all my furniture from IKEA, YES IKEA... I know very well what you think of them but as you know I am a fast-food kinda guy and I didn’t have much choice actually because all the other companies were facing supply chain issues during covid.

Next week, DHL will ship the TV that was on sale at Amazon. I must have a TV to watch the updates on NASA’s latest expeditions. Being old school, I still enjoy watching on a big screen. I, of course, posted some photos of my fabulous new location while sipping on a Pepsi. I’m trying to cut back but couldn’t resist opening the Pepsi can that was a gift from my Russian neighbor, welcome to the United Nations of America. As you have seen, I already shared many photos on Facebook and surprisingly got many likes even from haters.

I got invited to a birthday event at the museum last Wednesday; I took a beautiful kit of painting-by-numbers as a gift. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s an appropriate gift. Oh yeah, I nearly forgot to mention: I was amazed by this huge polyptych masterpiece at the very entrance of the museum (check the photo attached).

By the way, KFC doesn’t have the skinless chicken bites you like anymore. Remember the Shell gas station selling Agip motor oil with the Arabic packaging next to the Pizza Hut? Well it’s gone, replaced by a vintage shop selling Pan Am, Datsun, GE, Marlboro, Kodak and other memorabilia... but the Michelin sign is still painted on the building’s wall.

Tom, it’s beautiful here, you should come visit me soon.



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