- Published on Sunday, 22 July 2012 08:03
- Category: Art
With the abundance of art fairs on the global stage and tour-de-force art festivals such as the Sharja Biennale, Art Basel(s), Venice Biennale and Art Dubai, it seems there is only standing room for anyone new on the scene, and evermore difficult for that newcomer break through the noise. One fair that has successfully done so is the Beirut Art Fair, that ran July 5th thru 8th at the Beirut International Exhibition & Leisure Center (BIEL). In its third generation, the Beirut Art Fair is poised to become a leading arts platform that features contemporary art from the Middle East, North African, and South Asian regions (MENASA).
Featuring over 40 exhibitors from throughout the MENASA region and Europe and a wealth talented artists and designers- including Karachi’s ArtChowk – The Gallery, Art Sawa from Dubai and Gallerie Sophie Lanoe from Paris- the Beirut Art Fair was a torrent of beauty, innovation and creativity. Some standouts at the festival included from the Trait Noir – Aryoa Gallery in Toulouse, France – who exhibited three of their artists, Mohamed El Baz, Amina Benbouchta, and Jean Pierre Grave. Beirut-based gallery The Running Horse featured a vast lineup of artists including such power-houses as Rasha Kahil, Reid Peppard, Youmna Habbouche, and Sirine Fattouh. London-based Lebanese artist Rasha Kahil particularly stood out with a poignant diptych titled Insomnia is a Four Letter Word (2010). The photograph series was a powerful representation of the nude female form, one that created a haunting image of sexuality and anonymity.
In addition to the art that will be on view, festival organizers created a rich program that included workshops, lectures and installations. Interesting additions to the program lineup were exhibitions dedicated to street art and graffiti, comic art and correspondence art. The graffiti art show, a chronicle of rich art found on the streets of Beirut, also included some street performances and demonstrations of graffiti in action. Though not the first of its kind in the art world – other festivals and exhibitions have also prominently featured street art- the live demonstrations at the Beirut Art Fair were stunning nonetheless. The program devoted to comic art, featuring works from several artists from throughout the MENASA region, highlighted how comic art illustrations filter and navigate the socio-economic and geo-political climate of their respective regions into visual language. An exhibition dedicated to correspondence based artwork was by far the most innovative of the bunch, featuring the interaction between two high-ranking individuals in the Arab art communities: Saudi writer Abdel Rahman Munif (City of Salt) and visual artist Marwan (Marwan Kassab-Bachi). The piece is a marriage of image and text, featuring letters written and illustrated by the pair.
The Beirut Art Fair is an up-and-comer. Like any emerging festival, it will take time for the fair to establish itself on the international scene and must continue to push the envelope of ingenuity and creativity in order to survive in the ephemeral tastes of the art world. So they seem to be off to a solid start.By Erin Joyce, Aslan Media Contributor