Beirut Art Fair provides platform for regional artists
Beirut Art Fair (BAF) in its 2017 version was held this year in Biel forum recently with 51 galleries from 23 countries participating in the fair. While some artists were present to talk visitors through their art works, those absent were replaced by their curators to defend their work — such as the Algerian artist, Adel Bentousi and the Iranian, Mojtaba Ramzi.
The most noticeable, original and subversive paintings and sculptors were presented by ARTLAB gallery. Owned by Antoine Haddad, the gallery corner displayed works of artists from Lebanon, Syria and Iran. Haddad explained that the policy of his gallery that opened its door in Gemmayze, the cultural hub of Beirut, in 2012, is to display noncommercial and non-decorative work.
“ARTLAB believes that art should make a statement and that the gallery should be a platform for young emerging artists to express themselves freely, with no restraints,” said Haddad.
Haddad saluted the initiatives of the UAE government to bring important museums such as Louvre Abu Dhabi and Guggenheim to the region.
Among the artists that Artlab considers as its partner is a talented Syrian painter, Ghylan Safadi, who participated in BAF with a 120x90 cm acrylic and ink on canvas that is part of his collection, “The show must go on”. Safadi explained that among the characters in his painting, we can find clowns because they are sort of lucid watchdogs who see the reality of society while exposing the truth.
The Syrian artist expressed that he is delighted to work with ARTLAB as most galleries these days have turned art into a business without any consideration for creativity and free expression.
“When art becomes a trend and a tool to ensure revenues, it loses its main mission to heal societies,” said Safadi. Adding that the main objective of art should be creating emotions and giving pleasure to the public, Safadi added that some of his paintings show the dark side of what is going on in Syria but at the same time he calls on all Syrian artists to express a lighter and happier version of their country through their art as a tribute to their homeland.
The Lebanese Mohamad Abdullah who was also present at the Art Fair to talk about his painting series Kama badna sutra inspired by Kamasutra. Standing alone in a corner, the Lebanese-French painter David Daoud flew in from Paris to talk about what he called the bloody, flesh and soul oil on canvas 200x200cm painting, which featured characters dressed in red standing in front of a background that is animated with different shades of red.
According to Daoud, his painting expresses the journey, remoteness, absence and the ephemeral in eternity. He added that it is very important to him to express his art in a sincere and authentic way. The corner that got the most admiration from the public is the one of the ‘sculptor of the balance,’ from the French artist Pierre Mouzat, who found a technique to place his sculptures without a pedestal.
When art becomes a trend and a tool to ensure revenues, it loses its main mission to heal societies