Johanna Abchee: the artist behind Karma J Mirrors

Beirut-based artist Johanna Abchee’s new collection of mirrors is based on games and green spaces.

May 11, 2016

EDGAR met Johanna at La Serre, the Dubai restaurant where her pieces are on display. 

I was brought up in Lebanon and I live in Beirut now. My father is Swedish, he’s an engineer, very precise. My mother is Iraqi and is all about the aesthetic. I think both those elements come out in my work. 

I’ve been producing art for about 10 years. I release about two or three collections per year. I make my mirrors in Beirut. I have an Armenian craftsman who sources the mirrors for me. Once the Armenian community let you in to their community they’re very welcoming.

The mirrors featuring the games – backgammon and Scrabble – are playful. I wanted to have some fun with this collection and not be so serious. I have also made mirrors based on game boards for my children. One is based on Monopoly – we love playing that game as a family. 

The mirror with the message ‘Grow more flowers’ is about the disappearing green spaces in Beirut. The mountains of Lebanon in the north are beautiful but in Beirut our parks are becoming privatised and built on. It’s such a shame – we need green space.

I sell my mirrors in Beirut and in Dubai at Galeries Lafayette and Sauce Boutique. I really like having them on display here in La Serre. I think it’s nice to have them around people who are meeting, talking, having coffee. It’s subtle. I love the fact that they’re just here and people can come across them by accident.

The Dubai art scene is really free and unrestrictive, which I like. I feel like the scene in London, for example, would be quite intimidating. There is no judgement in Dubai’s art community. With d3 opening up, Dubai is becoming a proper global art hub, but it’s not quite there yet. 

Johanna's mirrors are on display at La Serre, Vida Downtown, until May 31.

Follow her on Instagram on karmajmirrors