Saturday, December 10, 2016

Pierre Sadek vs Issam Chmayssani

Artworks by Tarek Chemaly
Ask any Lebanese of who Lebanon's premier caricaturist is, and the answer is invariably Pierre Sadek. After his death, he had a stamp in his effigy, and currently a full foundation under his  name - his character "the Lebanese citizen" became a ubiquitous presence in the 90s and the aughts. But what if I told you that, for a long time, Sadek was in the shadow of another caricaturist who passed away in 1992: Introducing, or rather re-introducing Issam Chmayssani.
Try as I might to find anything about him online, the only sources was a locked article dating to 1992 from Annahar about his death and a book about learning to draw which apparently is still in circulation.
Chmayssani used to handle all of Tele Vision imagery, inside programs (such as with the late Riad Charara) or in between programs or behind anchors or "speakrines". His style was very different from Sadek's - and he did not develop a main character such as the Lebanese citizen which made Sadek immediately recognizable to the masses. His very thick glasses as shown in the image above as taken from a Tele Vision video I have in my archives were a bit his calling card visually.
Chmayssani fell from the radar after his death. And of course by then Sadek was riding high. And the rest, by now, is history.