BEIRUT ART FAIR 2018: The artistic firework that lit the sky of Beirut, positioning it as a capital of art and a beacon of creativity on the international scene

Beirut Art Fair (2)

 

Inaugurated by His Excellency Mr. Saad Hariri, President of the Council of Ministers, the 9th edition of BEIRUT ART FAIR (BAF) welcomed 53 internationally renowned galleries from more than twenty countries and was concluded with a new record of 34,000 visitors; an increase of 21% compared to its previous edition.

This success began with the VIP opening ceremony, inaugurated by H.E. Mr. Saad Hariri, President of the Council of Ministers, accompanied by the Minister of Culture H.E. Dr. Ghattas Khoury, where 9,500 visitors were present. From Cameroon to Palestine, Thailand, and even Belarus, an artistic tour around the world was offered to collectors and visitors of the fair. The exquisite details of almost 2,000 artworks were highlighted thanks to the scenographic “mise en abyme” setting by the distinguished architect Patrick Boustani, where he gracefully recreated the heart of the metropolitan city of Beirut within the exhibition space.

The exhibition area received an upgrade to its space by 45%, in comparison to 2017, to receive the 34,000 BAF visitors (28,000 in 2017) who praised the refined quality of the fair that has succeeded in its endeavor to accommodate a higher number of international participating artists.

Relying on an unparalleled selection committee, comprised of Joanna Abou Sleiman-Chevalier, Tamara Inja-Jaber, Basel Dalloul, Abraham Karabajakian and Tarek Nahas, this modern and contemporary art fair of Lebanon lived up to its records of excellence since it was incepted in 2010.

Beirut Art Fair received a huge number of personalities, amongst which were H.E. Mr. Nohad Machnouk, Minister of Interior, H.E. Mrs. Monika Schmutz Kirgöz, Ambassador of Switzerland, H.E. Mrs. Christina Lassen, Head of the European Delegation, H.E. Mr. Karim Ben Cheikh, French Consul General, Member of Parliament Mr. Fouad Makhzoumi, Mr. Rony Arayji, former Minister of Culture, Mrs. Véronique Aulagnon, Director of the Institut français du Liban…Throughout the week during which the fair was held, collectors and journalists were invited to visit many private collection galleries across Lebanon.

Collectors mainly flocked around « Across Boundaries », the fair’s focal exhibition dedicated to the history of Lebanese photography and spanning the period from the 1900s to the present day. The exhibition showcased over 100 photographic items, a compilation of works from private and public Lebanese collections. Ably assisted by Marine Bougaran, Tarek Nahas, a passionate collector of photographs and curator of the exhibition who had undertaken the meticulous tasks of research, selection and compilation of works for the show, over the span of two years said: “I wanted to depict this history of Lebanon, the fifteen-year civil war. There is this quite magnificent shot taken by the grand Lebanese photographer Fouad El Khoury, where the Lebanese flag is painted on the wall of a building ravaged by bullets. It represents the entire history of Lebanon; the symbol and the symbolism alike”.

 

In parallel to the « Across Boundaries » exhibition, the photographic work of Betty Ketchedjian was awarded as part of the BYBLOS BANK AWARD ceremony that recognizes emerging photography talents.

Organized by the Régie Libanaise des Tabacs et Tombacs, the photographic exhibition « Manchar Souwar » honored the female workers in tobacco plantations and saluted their resilient effort, unshakeable assiduity, and incessant contribution to the durability of the agricultural economy of the Land of Cedars.

REVEALING by SGBL took the same route by proposing to local and international galleries to discover the promising young artists of the future. This year, 18 artists were chosen to present a selection of their recent artworks: Paul Merhy (Lebanon) / Gita Davari (Iran) / Ieva Saudargaité Douaihi (Lebanon/Lithuania) / Thomas Henriot (France) / Matthieu Faury (France) / Sami Haj-Chehade (Lebanon) / Núria Rion (Spain) / Hicham Benohoud (Morocco) / O’Maurice Mboa (Cameroon) / Alizé le Maoult (France) / Akil Ahmad (Syria) / Olajumoke Lateef Kunle (Nigeria) / Ben Abounassif (Venezuela/Lebanon) / Soh Boon Kiong (Malaysia) / Zaid Shawwa (Jordan) / Morgane Tschiember (France) / Wensen Qi (China) / Fouad Agbaria (Palestine)

At the heart of the space dedicated to modernity in art, « LEBANON MODERN! A TRIBUTE TO PAUL GUIRAGOSSIAN » was an homage paid par excellence to one of the most famous artists of the Middle East through the exhibition of many documents and audio recordings, in addition to previously unpublished works of Guiragossian, unveiled by the Paul Guiraggossian Foundation and renowned Lebanese art collectors.

In her commentary on the exhibition, Manuella Guiragossian, President of the Foundation, said: “What is quite extraordinary about this homage paid to Paul Guiragossian is that it is the first grouping of his artworks made since the L’Orient newspaper’s hall exhibition in 1966”.

 

Amongst the galleries that displayed for the first time in Lebanon was Lefebvre et Fils (France), which showcased a unique collection of ceramics, notably by the Californian artist Jay Kvapil, the master of the crater glazing technique.

Iranian artist Rokni Haerizadeh, who has been a political asylum seeker in Dubai for ten years now, exhibited his work with the gallery In Situ. His work, specifies the owner of the gallery Fabienne Leclerc, “is paintings made of gouache on paper. Based on the concept of ‘screen impression’, it incorporates television and newspaper images depicting the life of refugees and migrants in their camps. His characters are animal caricatures, an aspect that allows to stand at a certain distance from the topic”.

Diane Audrey Ngako from the gallery Doualaise Voodart presented three artists whose vibrantly colorful painting, « The New King » of Marc Pedu, manifested a retrospect glance at the traditions in Cameroon and the importance of Christianity in the country.

Gallery Dominique Fiat surprised visitors with the magnificent ceramic plates by Rachid Koraichi and the shells made by Kata Traboulsi, The gallery Laura Gowen presented the beautiful acrylics on canvas of Tami Ichino, 392Rmeil393 seduced art buyers with the paintings of Nada Matta, A&V Art Gallery from Belarus managed to sell all its artworks of Natalya Zaloznaya. As for the Lebanese Agial Art Gallery, it showcased a tantalizing assemblage of experimental sculptures that span 50 years of the work of Lebanese artists.

Aïda Cherfan Fine Art attracted visitors with, among other, the works of Bahram Hajou completely dedicated to modernity. Odile Mazloum from Alwane Saifi Gallery presented works of Shafic Abboud, Farid Aouad, and Georges Cyr. Armenian Aramé Art Gallery unveiled the eye-capturing work of Ruben Grigorian. Artlab presented on its stand exceptional works of seven great Lebanese and Iranian artists, two of whom were Farshid Davoodi and Morteza Khosravi. The young Hind Ahmad from the Senegalese gallery Artual Gallery showcased many artworks of which the Katrin Fridriks’ installation.

The nascent Lebanese gallery dedicated to shedding light on emerging artists, Bel-Air Fine Art, surprised the fair’s visitors with the sculptures of Carole Feuerman. Cub Gallery attracted many visitors around its paintings and photographs, some of which by Wajdi Zoghbi. The gallery Emmagoss sold all the contents of its stand multiple times throughout the fair. As for the Egyptian galleries, like Founoun Gallery, Gallery Misr, Karim Francis, Mashrabia Gallery, Picasso Art Gallery, they garnered the appreciation of international collectors. The first participation of Galerie Chériff Tabet was garnished with success, especially its paintings by Emilio Trad. The exquisite stand of Nadine Begdache, for the Lebanese gallery Janine Rubeiz, sparked a wave of enthusiasm among the fair’s visitors with the monumental work of Zad Moultaka who represented Lebanon in the previous version of the Biennale de Venise, but also with a set of black and white drawings.

Gallery Rochane had a huge success, notably the works of Diane Ayoub. The Lebanese-German gallery TANIT sold many photographs of its artists as well. The French GD Gallery attracted many collectors of the paintings of David Daoud, Mark Hachem’s stand was buzzing with buyers running to put their hands on the magnificent paintings of Chaouki Chamoun. Hamazkayin Art Gallery presented rare paintings pertaining to modern Armenia. The newly born Letitia Gallery in Beirut showcased a magnificent series of contemporary artworks, notably by Nathaniel Rackowe. M. Square Gallery attracted many buyers, namely for the paintings by Jonone. The hip and dynamic Lebanese gallery MARFA sold many of its exceptional top-notch pieces, especially those by artist Lamia Joreige. Mazel Galerie coming from Belgium and Singapore seduced visitors with an assemblage of pieces by Quentin Garel, Etienne Cail, and Gaël Davrinche. South Border also attracted collectors around its Cuban artists. Sud Gallery from France on the other hand witnessed visitors swarming around its ensemble of artworks made on paper and canvas, a beautiful mélange of golden flakes and crisp sand, by Guy Ferrer, in association with a beautiful collection of African sculptures. TAFETA, from London, received great acclaim for its artworks by famous artist Victor Ekpuk. American gallery Twelve Gates Arts sold many artworks by its Pakistani artists Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Hiba Schahbaz. Whereas the association Lebanese Autism Society showcased paintings of Ali Tlais.

 

After one week of intense artistic festivities, the program had begun with Beirut Art Week, a cultural promenade around 16 STOPS scattered throughout the streets of Beirut and highlighting the artworks of Lebanese and international artists. Visitors had the chance to witness passionate exchanges between artists and specialists on myriad round tables. Culinary art was not to be forgotten! The young Lebanese chef Tara Khattar honored the fair with her astounding food creations for the VIP Lounge, where part of the art collection of Arab Bank Liban was on display. On the other side of the artistic scene was a section dedicated to “Street Art”, with ART by Bankmed that showcased a collection of Nelly Choucair-Zeidan, comprising 40 figurines of the American artist KAWS.

The organizers of Beirut Art Fair expressed their gratitude to Bankmed, their historical partner since the creation of the fair, Société Générale de Banque au Liban, their privileged partner, Byblos Bank, Le Gray Hotel, Commercial Insurance, Arab Bank, the Régie Libanaise Des Tabacs Et Tombacs, and young chef Tara Khattar whose support made this 9th version of BAF come to being.

Come join us in September 2019, from 19 to 22, to celebrate together the 10th anniversary of BEIRUT ART FAIR!

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