The Royal College of Art in London has been host to an impressive collection of contemporary Lebanese art.
The Association for the Promotion and Exhibition of the Arts in Lebanon (APEAL) presented the first comprehensive exhibition of contemporary Lebanese art at the Royal College of Art.
Works were diverse, from a super-shiny stainless steel sculpture to photographs that captured the country’s war to art that depicted the essential amalgamation of loss and hope in Lebanon.
One of the most influential Lebanese artists today Nadim Karam – the first artist from the Middle East to be exhibited at Sotheby’s Chatsworth sale this year – spoke to euronews’ London Correspondent Ali Sheikholeslami about art in his country and his two works shown in the exhibition:
“The superimposition, when you look at the massacre and the flower elephant, almost explains the situation in Beirut: You have the joy, the life, the stories, the memories, in parallel to the pain, the disaster, the catastrophe, the violence. That comes together as one life, and that’s how we live there. We live our moment and we live them interrupted. We have the bad moments and we have the really fantastic ones. That’s how we live in Beirut.”
“People ask me how much time did it take you to paint that work. I say not less than 20 years. It’s a life experience, but the real work on it was maybe a couple of months.”
“If you take the eye, the middle circle, which is maybe the essence, where things happen. Then you have the development of the stories that goes around it. One story, then another story, and you see these stories continue even outside the elephant. It’s as if he’s shaken these stories out of himself so that we can all experience them and interpret them in different ways.”
APEAL’s president Rita Nammour commented that “ we’ve been rebuilding Lebanon; Beirut is being rebuilt. But I think the cultural reconstruction of Lebanon is extremely important. Art is a way to get our young people get together and get beyond our cultural and religious differences.”
“The main reason behind creation of APEAL is projecting the cultural image of Lebanon. It’s also promoting young talents beyond conventional borders and onto larger screens. It’s helping them expose themselves outside Lebanon. It’s also commissioning public art.”
Juliana Khalaf, the curator, said:
“What really excites me about contemporary Lebanese artists is that they are not afraid to try different techniques and at the same time they’re not afraid to share their messages on inconvenient truths. That includes them as acting as historians, journalists, politicians, satirists. I think that brings for interesting dialogue and narratives.”
“Subtitled with narrative runs up 33 different Lebanese artists who have been chosen for the diversity of their voices and who talk about war narratives, reconstructing narratives, cultural narratives, even bittersweet narratives, which they have to live with.”
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