October 29, 2015, BEIRUT – On Sunday, October 25, 2015, the Aïshti Foundation opened its
first permanent building in Beirut, Lebanon, with a series of spectacular events for international
press, artists, curators and CEOs of the world’s major luxury brands.
Guests were treated to a three-day tour of major art exhibitions hosted by the foundation, including
“New Portraits,” selected works from New York artist Richard Prince’s Instagram exhibition
at Aïshti stores in Downtown Beirut (now on view); “The Extreme Present,” the opening show
curated by art dealer Jeffrey Deitch at the Metropolitan Art Society (running until November
29); “New Skin,” curated by art critic Massimiliano Gioni at the Aïshti Foundation; and “The Skin
of Things,” a talk on art and architecture at the Sursock Museum featuring Pamela Rosenkranz,
Massimiliano Gioni, David Adjaye, Bernard Khoury and Rayyane Tabet.
The lively weekend concluded with a cocktail party at the Aïshti Foundation, where 2,000 guests
danced until dawn in the stunning new building by the sea. Among them were curators Yvonne
Bowden, Josh Ellman, Suzanne Geiss, Jeffrey Deitch and Massimiliano Gioni, as well as artists
Maurizio Cattelan, Dan Colen, Daniel Buren, Wade Guyton, Walead Beshty and Willem de Rooj.
Famed photographer Juergan Teller was also present at the opening, after guest editing a special
edition of Aïshti’s A magazine for the event. The book will soon be available for purchase, and
guests took home complimentary copies as mementos of the weekend.
The Aïshti Foundation was designed by the renowned architectural practice Adjaye Associates
and is dedicated to presenting contemporary art exhibitions and artworks from the private
collection of Tony Salamé, CEO of Aïshti. The foundation is the first of its kind in the region,
showcasing a dynamic mix of artists and media on an unprecedented scale. Located on a coastal
site just outside Beirut, it offers more than 4,000 square meters of exhibition space.
With its red aluminum tubular structure applied to the building as an exoskeleton, the Aïshti
Foundation façade – one of the most distinctive features of the architecture – envelops the edifice
in a scrim of multiple layers and geometric patterns reminiscent of the mashrabiya, the perforated
woodwork typical of traditional Arabic architecture. From the inside, large windows open onto
the sea and the city behind, generating a visual dialogue between Beirut’s fluctuating skyline and
the elegant spaces of the galleries.
The inaugural exhibition, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, is titled “New Skin” and presents a
selection of works from the Tony Salamé collection. Encompassing 2,000 works by various
artists, the collection has grown at vertiginous speed in the last decade, turning the Aïshti
Foundation into one of the most active and energetic institutions in the Middle East and beyond.
Borrowing its title from a sculpture by British artist Alice Channer, the exhibition “New Skin”
brings together works that expand and transform the language of abstraction, imagining new
relationships between surface, texture and form. In close dialogue with Adjaye’s interwoven
façade design and architecture, the exhibition focuses on recent experiments in painting and
sculpture while establishing a speculative lineage that stretches from the sensuous surfaces of
Agostino Bonalumi, Enrico Castellani, and Piero Manzoni to the work of many contemporary
artists with their digitally rendered undulations of forms.
The exhibition features more than 200 works by international contemporary artists including,
among others: Etel Adnan, Ziad Antar, Tauba Auerbach, Agostino Bonalumi, Carol Bove,
Kerstin Brätsch, Daniel Buren, Enrico Castellani, Urs Fischer, Wade Guyton, Camille Henrot,
Glenn Ligon, Lucy McKenzie, Giuseppe Penone, Gianni Piacentino, Michelangelo Pistoletto,
Seth Price, R.H. Quaytman, Gerhard Richter, Pamela Rosenkranz, Rayyane Tabet, Wolfgang
Tillmans, Kari Upson, Andra Ursuta, Christopher Wool, Danh Vo, Charline Von Heyl, Michael
Williams and Akram Zaatari among many others.
The Aïshti Foundation is part of a 40,000 square-meter complex that includes fashion boutiques,
a curated bookshop, restaurants, cafes, a spa and a rooftop bar with striking views of Beirut
framed by the sea. As a new destination, the Foundation and its surroundings – with vast public
spaces opening onto the coastline – will inject new energy in the city of Beirut, which in recent
years has attracted the attention of the international art community with its vibrant artistic scene
and its rich cultural milieu.
“After years of collecting and aspiring to some day give back to the Lebanese community,” says
Tony Salamé, “it’s a dream come true to launch the Aïshti Foundation, with Massimiliano Gioni
curating the opening show in a building designed by David Adjaye. When I went through the
collection with Massimiliano in New York and saw everything coming together, it was quite an
emotional moment.”
In anticipation of the inauguration of the new Aïshti building, architect David Adjaye comments:
“Having spent time in Beirut as a child, it is a pleasure to return to the city to work on this project.
I have been particularly excited to explore a new typology, by juxtaposing culture and a series of
other adjacencies, from art to retail to wellbeing.”
“I am excited to be curating the inaugural show at the Aïshti Foundation,” says exhibition organizer
Massimiliano Gioni. “Tony is a dynamo and Beirut a city that has produced some of the most
interesting artists at work today. I look forward to seeing the Aïshti Foundation amplify the energy
and talent of many artists locally and internationally.”


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