New York City, New York

On December 9th, The Nietzsche Circle presents with great Vor-Freude, ECCE HOMO: CHAWKY FRENN – ART AS PHILOSOPHY. ECCE HOMO will celebrate the release of Frenn’s new monograph, Art for Life’s Sake, which features essays by Donald Kuspit, Howard Reznikoff, Mark Daniel Cohen and others.

The art of Chawky Frenn takes the eye as the royal road to the soul, and it is astounding how few works of contemporary visual art do that. On the soft bed of exquisite painterly technique, they do contentious battle with the alluring horrors and beckoning powers of destruction that plague the human spirit at its very center. His works are filled with images fused of tenderness and carnage, of passion and destruction, of faith and perfidy, of life and death. Frenn was born in Lebanon, where he spent his first 20 years living through six years of civil war. As Frenn has said, he witnessed, “people killed, sacrificed and terrorized in the name of God, of the Nation, of scared beliefs and basic rights.” It was an experience of “a paradox of clashing realities,” a recognition of the need to seek “meaning amongst the chaos and absurdity.”

However, for Frenn, absurdity is something other than an easy condemnation. As he quotes Nietzsche in one of his exhibition catalogues: “One must have chaos in one, to give birth to a dancing star.” The debt to Nietzsche is evident everywhere in his paintings—in the numerous quotations from Nietzsche included in his catalogues, in paintings such as Homage to Nietzsche, 1998, and in the very title of his museum exhibition, ECCE HOMO. What Frenn obtains of the philosopher is Nietzsche’s sense of “tragic insight”—the recognition that the human heart is riven, caught between the drives toward creation and decay, toward life and death, toward acceptance and slaughter. And yet, not caught, for he recognizes that these opposites are the same, and the human condition is rooted somewhere “beyond good and evil.” You can see the realization in such works as Creation, 1998, a triptych in which a portrait of the artist is partially eclipsed by a skull in profile, and in The Dance, 1998, another triptych in which all the panels couple the artist with the skeleton and, in the center panel, the two do their dance of life and death.

This is art as philosophy, as the most difficult of philosophies, as the knowledge that realizes—in the way Frenn puts it in the title of another painting—Where images stop, philosophy begins, 1997.

Frenn was born in Zahlé, Lebanon and moved to the United States in 1981. He has exhibited nationally and internationally, and has had shows in the US, France, Germany, Lebanon, and Paraguay. In 2000 - 2002, Frenn’s first traveling exhibition, ECCE HOMO, was hosted by Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, and other universities and museums throughout the country. For his work, he has received the Blanche E. Colman Award, Mellon Trust, the Basil H. Alkazzi Award, London, the Khalil Gibran Foundation Grant, and others. Frenn will present slides of his paintings and speak about his work. Afterwards, Mark Daniel Cohen will moderate a dialogue with Frenn, then invite the audience for questions. There will be wine, cheese, and fruit. Admission is $5.

To view Frenn’s work, visit his site:

Date: Saturday December 9th

Time: 7:00 PM

Place: Mercy College, 66 West 35th Street, Room 701

Admission: $5

Official Website:

Added by jcrocamo on November 20, 2006

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