A young artist honors Lebanese legends by painting their portraits on money. Icons such as Fairouz, Wadih Al Safi, Sabah, and Gibran Khalil Gibran are adding charm and pride to the Lebanese currency.
The series is called “3am khalle el lira terja3 tehke” which translates to “I’m making the lira worthy again.” It’s an original concept the artist Ibrahim Sultani came up with and developed over the course of two years.
With a passion of portraits and a fascination for Lebanese bills and coins, the artist is reviving Lebanese icons that make us proud.
Meet the artist
Ibrahim Sultani is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture at the Lebanese American University. However, he is deeply passionate about arts. He discovered his talent when he was four years old.
“The teacher would demonstrate how to draw something in front of the class, and we would replicate, or she would just assign us an idea to draw,” he said. “I’d always be so quick to start producing a drawing while my classmates are barely able to start,” he added.
His teacher and classmates would always be amazed. That’s when Ibrahim realized that he has a talent that he needs to foster.
Painting legends on money
“I’d asked around 10 or 15 people for suggestions. Finally, one lady friend asked the right question, ‘Well, what do you love the most?’ That’s how I started painting money.” The infamous quote by the American artist Andy Warhol inspired him in many ways. “You can start painting money as in paint pictures of money. I took it as in painting on money,” Ibrahim said.
The idea behind this concept also generated from Ibrahim's fascination with portraits. He considers drawing portraits to be challenging as it deals with very strict proportions and details. “When I draw a portrait, people have to recognize the face in a matter of milliseconds. If they take longer, I have failed,” he said.
The artist also draws people that are currently making Lebanon shine such as Nadine Labaki and Elie Saab. Other notable Lebanese people that he painted include Hassan Alaa Eddine, Salah Tizani, Ibrahim Maraachli, Melhem Barakat, Georges Khabbaz, Marcel Khalife, Riad Salamé, and Adel Karam.
His two favorite pieces are the very first two currency paintings he did: Fairouz on a 1,000 L.L. and Sabah on a 5,000 L.L. "They marked the beginning of my original concept which gave me this breakthrough and the idea was new to everyone I know, even to myself," he said.
Check out Ibrahim Sultani's work on Instagram!