Collectors Under the Spotlight: Mazen and Loulia Soueid

Collectors Under the Spotlight: Mazen and Loulia Soueid 


Synergy, storytelling and selection all have a part to play in creating a collection of character, Mazen and Loulia Soueid tell Ahmad Minkara.



Among the many things that brought Mazen Soueid and Loulia Berbir together back in 2007 was a shared passion for art.


He was an enthusiastic collector and she was a painter heralding from a family of artists. Today, almost a decade on and happily married, Mazen and Loulia are the proud owners of an impressive art collection showcasing a wealth of works by some of the region’s leading artists.


The collection, they explain, has evolved during their time together, with their common love for art reflecting something much deeper.


Could this be a case of “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life”, as the Irish writer Oscar Wilde once said? Somewhat appropriately, Loulia informs me that this is one of her favourite quotes. Certainly, maintaining a synergy within the collection is essential, she notes with a smile.



Mazen and Loulia have arrived at their destination by somewhat different paths. Having gained a PhD in macroeconomics, Mazen was working for the International Monetary Fund, based at the organisation’s offices in Washington DC, but travelling extensively. His work often took him to developing countries, such as Laos, Burma and Vietnam and, he explains, it was during these trips that he found himself drawn to indigenous art and artefacts. “I began buying pieces and bringing them home with me,” he says. “In my mind, I’d be thinking of coordinating with décor and furniture in neutral colours.”


Loulia, meanwhile, comes from a family in which art has long played a major role. Her mother, Sima El Moudaress, is an artist and Loulia herself paints figurative art, guided by some of Lebanon’s most influential talents.


In 2006, Mazen took the decision to settle back in Lebanon, and, one year on, met his future wife. With art already playing a key part in their lives, building a collection together seemed a natural step to take.


The couple explain how they choose their pieces and what they’re looking for when deciding whether to make a purchase. “We mainly collect contemporary Arab artists,” Mazen says. “We love the story behind the painting.”


Mazen admits that while not a fan of labels, he finds himself gravitating

towards figurative and abstract art rather than photography and installations.



Loulia, meanwhile, remains receptive to a variety of concepts, citing Lucian Freud who said, “Painters who deny themselves the representation of life and limit their language to purely abstract forms, are depriving themselves of the possibility of provoking more than an aesthetic emotion.”


The couple are the proud owners of works by a list of Lebanese artists that includes Rima Amyuni, Hussein Madi, Marwan Sahmarani, Mohammad Rawas and the late Fadi Barrage. The country’s younger generation is a particular focus, represented in pieces by Talar Aghbashian and Oussama Baalbaki. Artists featured from the regional stage include Youssef Abdelki, the late Louay Kayali and Fateh Moudarres from Syria, alongside Morocco-based Idriss Wadahi.


Their advice for would-be collectors is to think before making a purchase and buy for the right reasons.


“Don’t buy art just because you were told it’s a good investment,” they say. “Take time to reflect over each piece and go back to the gallery before making a decision. Most importantly, don’t rush!”


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