arts

Student transforms coffee into surrealist art



Lennie’s restaurant, usually know for its gourmet pizza, became a coffeehouse on Tuesday, but it was more than just the lattes that brought people out.

Instead, Bloomington residents and students gathered for an art exhibit featuring paintings by graduate student Alaa Abi Haidar, who creates his works using coffee.

His exhibit,“Coffee on Canvas,” was on display from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday and featured surrealist images painted with espresso, as well as a collection of acrylic and photographic images.

To create the paintings Abi Haidar said he uses homemade coffee that he brews very densely and allows to settle into a thick consistency that he is able to paint with. He then transfers the coffee to canvas directly with a spoon, applying multiple layers to create darker colors and texture.

“I think the style of shading is really unique,” graduate student Tyler Coogan said. “I guess it’s how he brews the coffee at different levels to get the color darker and darker.”

The subject matter of each painting varied from images of horses and portraits of people, to photos of scenery from places all across the world.

“It’s great fun, the horse painting is lovely,” said Bloomington resident Shirley St. John. “It’s fascinating what can be done with coffee and a teaspoon.”

Many of the viewers were friends of Abi Haidar, but some simply came for the food and ended up enjoying the artwork. 

By the end he had sold two of his paintings, one within fifteen minutes of opening the doors.

“It was pretty amazing, lots of people came,” Abi Haidar said. “I got some pretty interesting feedback from people.”

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