Friday, July 9, 2010

How 'art' thou?

Having Oliewenhuis so close to home while growing up must have paid off, because my first art review has just been published in the July issue of Time Out Beirut - my debut issue as art editor.

So that's one issue down, some more to go, starting with the August/ September bumper issue. Which took me to an interview with Rita Aad, the most upbeat artist I've ever met. She blasts her music (she gave me an awesome CD to take home) and 'explodes' on the canvas. The result is this:


Michael, her son

Then it was on to Beirut's hotels in search of decent art for a feature I'm doing. What I found was Rudy Rahme's 'Season of Life' in the recently opened Four Seasons Hotel, made with his patented charcoal and colour extracted from rocks:

Rudy is the famous Lebanese artist who carved this impressive image of Christ at the ancient cedars of Lebanon. I got to interview him in his gallery yesterday.

My next find was Le Gray (well it wasn't actually a find, as I'd already been there and know it's Lebanon's foremost art hotel - or only art hotel really!). I love this contemporary setting - it's filled with fabulous and fun art pieces, including these:

This one by Frenchman Fred Bred hangs alongside the Poolside cafe.

These floral arrangements at the restaurant entrance were so beautiful that I'd call them art too!

Then there's the cutest little ellie in the lobby - so talked about, that the pastry team has started making cookies shaped like him and topping them with Smarties for the kids that stay at the hotel. And it happens to be an artwork by Mom's cousin, Nadim Karam. Nadim is famous for his Archaic Procession, a family of sculptural creatures created from his wild imagination, who have travelled the world - from Melbourne to Tokyo. This is one of them:

Nadim told me this week that his architecture, planning and design studio, Atelier Hapsitus, aims to 'make cities dream'. And that's why he loves exhibiting outside of art galleries. I love that idea.

Next was my visit to the brand new Beirut Exhibition Center for the retrospective exhibition of Lebanese-born Nabil Nahas, who's been living in New York ever since doing his Master's in Fine Art at Yale in 1973.

The Beirut Exhibition Center changes colour according to the time of day. It reminded me of the concept of the Green Point Stadium.

Nahas started his career with very geometric lines in the 1970s.

In the 90s he started collecting dead starfish and pasting them onto his canvases and painting over them with acrylics.

His latest work refers to his homeland, with images of cedars, pine trees and olive branches.

And then during the week, I also came across some graffiti art:

And political propaganda 'art':

They wanted people to boycott Tiesto because he was refusing not to go to Israel before coming to Lebanon, and a lot of people here feel that there should be sanctions against Israel, including sanctioning which performers they receive.

Last night I got to see original Botero drawings and Dali sculptures at a worldwide exhibition that happened to be on at La Posta where we dined.

I saw a mini version of this. Someone here bought it for $48 000!

Botero is known for his images of fat ladies. I like the guy!

But the most fun art moment this week was definitely the predominantly pink exhibition by Zena el Khalil at Espace Kettaneh Kunigk, inspired by pink Israeli propaganda posters that were dropped on Beirut from airplanes during the 2006 war.

'Peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars'
May this be your mantra too in the coming week. Go out and find the art around you!

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