Beirut Art Fair Champions Lebanese Artists

A white cloud of fabric floats into an abandoned building. The ghost is somewhere in Lebanon, bringing a crisp whiteness, a breath of fresh air, into a building full of history. The image – WRAITH (Reviving Lebanon Heritage) – was taken by Tony Mhanna, a Lebanese artist recently selected to be promoted by the team behind Beirut Art Fair, in an initiative working to promote young Lebanese artists.

WRAITH (Reviving Lebanon Heritage), 2019, photograph, Tony Mhanna

The explosion that hit Beirut on August 4 devastated us all and, as the daughter of a Beiruti mother, this hit me particularly hard. Lebanon has always been a hub for artists and creatives, but many are struggling in the midst of an economic crisis accompanied by the effects of the explosion. Mhanna’s photograph reminds us that Lebanon is a country full of artistic and cultural history, and that it can and will be revived. The longstanding Beirut Art Fair, is working to help accelerate this revival of Lebanese culture.

La main gauche de la nuit (torres blancas), 2019, architectural tracing print, Basile Ghosn

Beirut Art Fair, which unfortunately had to cancel this year’s edition, has therefore announced Open Call #1 for Lebanese Artists, to encourage support for young Lebanese artists. From over 190 applicants, 7 artists have been chosen to be promoted across the art fair’s social media platforms.

One Moment on 40 Years, 2019, photograph, Zeinab Khalifeh

Until December 9, Beirut Art Fair’s Facebook and Instagram platforms will be exhibiting one artist per day. The works will then be offered for sale in order to support and encourage these artists and to continue to pursue their artistic careers.

Bright Side, 2019, Leather and yarn, Michelle Maluf

The artists include Tony Mhanna, Zeinab Khalifeh, Basile Ghosn, Lea Skayem, Salah Missi, Michelle Maluf and Camila Salame. My personal highlights include Michelle Maluf’s beautiful tapestry Bright Side, which aims to see beauty within dullness. The bright colours gush out offering light and were inspired by ancestral weaving techniques. Another favourite is Zeinab Kahlifer’s One Moment on 40 Years, a photograph that shows her Uncle Hassan working on his sewing machine in the old souk in Sidon.

Check out the selected artists on Beirut Art Fair’s Instagram until December 9

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier aka Gallery Girl is a writer and curator based in London. Her work has been featured in publications including Dazed, Hyperallergic and Vogue Arabia. She was curator of Perpetual Movement during AWAN Festival 2018 and in 2019 had a residency at the Lab at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan. She has also worked with Armenia Art Fair for its inaugural edition and previously worked as an editor at I.B.Tauris Publishers. In 2019 she co-founded Arsheef, Yemen’s first contemporary art gallery. She has given workshops at Manara Culture in Amman, Jordan and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. As of 2020 she is currently in law school, with the ambition of greater understanding the intersection between art and the law.

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