Executive Magazine - - Executive Life - Words by Olga Habre

beirut is more beau­ti­ful at night. It can be painful to look at in the bru­tally hon­est light of day — knots of un­sightly elec­tri­cal wires creep­ing along like vines, de­cay­ing side­walks giv­ing way to grotesque con­crete struc­tures, haunt­ing bul­let holes, and rare patches of green ac­ci­den­tally le un­paved. ut dark­ness masks the aws, and when the oc­ca­sion­ally work­ing street lights or set­ting sun meet air pol­lu­tion, an al­most beau­ti­ful halo sur­rounds the city.

“Dark­ness hides the city’s se­crets,” says Le­banese vis­ual artist us­sama aal­baki. is eighth solo e hi­bi­tion, called Plead­ings of the Light and held at the gial rt allery in amra from uly - ugust , is a se­ries of serenely dystopic Le­banese land­scapes.

With a spe­cial fo­cus on light, both nat­u­ral and man-made, the pieces are beau­ti­ful and evoca­tive — snap­shots of eirut streets and scenes from na­ture with al­most no hu­mans, but lots of eye­sores like bill- boards, cranes, an­ten­nas, scare­crows, quar­ries, and clash­ing ar­chi­tec­ture, set against a ro­man­tic sky lled with im­pres­sion­is­tic clouds in shades of cool blue and lus­trous gold. What’s es­pe­cially im­pres­sive about his work is his aw­less tech­nique in paint­ing light, a no­to­ri­ously di icult thing to de­pict. aal­baki says he loves the le over light of day and its con­trast with dark­ness.

The artist does not own a car, and spends a lot of time walk­ing the streets of his home­town. With his eyes in con­stant search of eet­ing mo­ments, he cap­tures pho­tos on a cell­phone the way many of us do, but takes them to his stu­dio and lets his imag­i­na­tion con­tinue the thought on can­vas. is paint­ings o en re­call pho­tos. There is one par­tic­u­larly large paint­ing of a dark street anked by sil­hou­ettes of a bill­board, and a street­light con­trasted against the kind of vivid sun­set for which you’d pull your car over and take In­sta­gram pho­tos. This paint­ing gar­nered a lot of

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