Meet The Artists: Abel Kesteven and Nabil Hamad

Fri 3/Mar/23

Meet The Artists: Abel Kesteven and Nabil Hamad

Meet The Artists: Abel Kesteven and Nabil Hamad - title added in the foreground of a multicoloured artwork


In this blog, we talk to local artists Abel Kesteven and Nabil Hamad about who they are and what inspired their exhibition 'Spontaneity'.


Visit Spontaneity at Honeywood Museum, Thursday - Saturday until 17 December 2022. Artwork will be available for purchase.


Introduce yourselves, tell us about yourselves?

Abel Kesteven (AK): My name is Abel Kesteven and I live and work in Carshalton. My 'day job' involves running therapeutic art sessions for adults with Autism, Cerebral Palsy and mental health problems. This work is a huge source of inspiration to me both in terms of the art they produce but also how spontaneous and free they are when making it.

Nabil Hamad (NH): At the end of the seventies I left my country of origin, Lebanon — the country of my father and ancestors, because of the civil war there at the time. I headed to Europe in search for an environment where democracy and equality between races and religions existed all under one law. I stayed in Paris for a while, where I experimented in new styles of artistic practice. Paris held an attraction to me because its where modern art originated.


I then moved to London to be appointed Art Director for a Lebanese magazine that was read by free-thinking people hungry for liberty. Before all this, when I was in Lebanon, I studied art under the tutelage of a great artist of Armenian origin named Paul Guiragossian. During that period of study, I started a career as a political cartoonist. I then got very interested in graphic art, and started to combine the two. Eventually, I started getting jobs as an art director for magazines — a profession I stuck with for the next twenty-five years. But I didn’t stop with my fine art practice. It remained close to my heart. I would spend entire weekends in my studio, working with paint on canvas.


Abel Kesteven


What inspired the Spontaneity exhibition?

AK: I worked as a freelance illustrator after leaving college but always felt more inspired producing my own self motivated work. I struggled to follow a clients lead. I made paintings of moving figures/crowds in London stations but always from photographs. I'd always worked in sketchbooks (drawing people and animals usually), and I soon realised that this was my most authentic work. The work that gave me the most satisfaction.


Having met Nabil a couple of years ago I found that we both shared the same outlook in terms of producing spontaneous work whether from imagination or from life, (or indeed a combination of the two). We realised that our work complimented each others in terms of colour, line and simplicity of form as well as an interest in the human form...moving.


NH: The inspiration to Spontaneity comes from being completely honest with feelings. I believe action and reaction carry huge motions of creation because they are blowing up with real human feelings and affection. One of the surrealists said, “the more the brain does not interfere, the more the creation will be high and honest”.


Abel Kesteven and Nabil Hamad's multicoloured artwork


What can people expect from this exhibition?

AK: Nabil and I also work in 3 dimensions and that is another connection we have. My sculptures share themes with my pastel, mixed media and monoprint work often animals and people, (and their relationships with each other). The exhibition includes earlier landscape/parkscape paintings together with more recent work depicting folk musicians in black and white and mixed media collage. I'm very much looking forward to meeting the public together with Nabil to discuss my love of artistic spontaneity. I hope that the excitement I get from working from life shows through in the work.


NH: The public who will visit this show at Honeywood Museum can expect to respond with tenderness and love because the artworks speak to their real pulse and feelings.


Abel Kesteven and Nabil Hamad's artistic sculpture of a bulldog


Have you got any exhibition highlights?

NH: I admire all the works in this show because they are like my children. But there is one in particular that came into being accidentally after ink dripped on white paper. It then emerged into a figure of a woman.


Abel Kesteven and Nabil Hamad's artwork of a purple coloured female figure


What are you looking forward to about displaying your work at Honeywood Museum?

AK: I have exhibited work at the Honeywood Museum on several occasions and I love the building itself, the warm atmosphere and of course, it's an idyllic setting. Jane [Heritage Development Officer in Sutton Council's Cultural Services] is a superb curator and I leapt at the chance of having a joint exhibition. Some of the art I have on show have been created locally at Beddington Park as well as at the Demesnes road allotments. (I chose the allotments as a project during lockdown as it was very peaceful and one of the few places it was permitted to go)!


NH: I don’t like to preach, but I do believe this sort of art will be practiced fairly widely in the near future, and that’s because of its authenticity and its conveying of real feeling and love.


I’m looking forward to the whole show itself, and to the opportunity of having my art seen by a wider audience.



Find out more about Honeywood Museum and about other exhibitions and events taking place at Honeywood Museum, Whitehall Historic House and also in Sutton's Libraries.


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