Convergence - New Art From Lebanon

April 08, 2010 to May 16, 2010
Collective - by Huguette El Khoury Caland | Joseph Chahfe | Bassam Geitani | Mansour El Habre | Joseph Harb | Hanibal Srouji | Jean Pierre Watchi
American University Museum, Katzen Arts Center 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

Convergence - New Art From Lebanon

New Art in Lebanon

In the seventies, American philosopher Nelson Goodman replaced the question: "What is art?" by another: "Where is there art?" which raises another pressing question "What are the criteria for aesthetic appreciation in today's art world?"
The so-called "contemporary art" is a term so complex and vast, that it often leads to misunderstanding, confusion, even exasperation.
Some artists claim that painting should relinquish all emotional purpose, and that art should exist uniquely as art per se. They hold for Art for Art's Sake, to the exclusion of anything decorative or entertaining.
One is under the impression that art, at present, is setting itself up in this strange paradox that sets beauty against itself, and any reference to beauty or ugliness is no longer pertinent.

Lebanese art today has not escaped this need to join the wide-ranging debate on art versus non-art. Modern communication has allowed them to glean from a variety of visual responses to interpret artistically their own society and times.
This new generation of artists questions, rebels and denounces, bringing to the forefront such concerns as "concept versus emotion"; it also invites the viewer to question the artistic act itself rather than the outcome, and to focus only on the nature of the experience, facing the public openly.
Their works are no fiction, they speak for today's reality: their own; this reality has wounded them deeply.
The ongoing questioning of new Art and the exploration of art as a means to relate to the world is, if anything, subjective. Rather than attempting to form a new theory of art with its varied discourses, it is best to establish a connection with the art work and to respond to its energy and vibrations.
It is a great challenge to present to the American public, in a Museum of Contemporary Art, a true image of new art from Lebanon.
The question we constantly ask ourselves about art stems from subjective criteria. This dilemma is persistent, difficult to settle! It is perhaps best to let one self submit to visual reflexes or to feel what a work of art conveys.

Fortunately, the visit of Dr. Rasmussen to Lebanon contributed to a great extent in putting together the best possible selection of art works, both harmonious and representative, though, alas, not an exhaustive one; but how could a selection ever be so?
It is thanks to Dr. Rasmussen's fresh and open view to this extremely complex Middle East, coupled with our lifetime intense experience of events and developments that we were able to assemble this exhibition.
Our sincere wish is that this exhibition will provide the American public with an exciting image of the Lebanese art scene, and also demonstrate how it has assumed a contemporary orientation in recent years, all while preserving its true identity.

Amal Traboulsi
Curator of the exhibition

Participating artists:

Ayman Baalbaki - Oussama Baalbaki - Lulu Baasiri - Mouna Bassili Sehnaoui - Huguette Caland - Joseph Chahfe - Chaouki Chamoun - Hala Dabaji - Amal Dagher - Chawky Frenn - Bassam Geitani - Mansour Habre - Joseph Harb - Joumana Jamhouri - Rim Jundi - Nadim Karam - Jean Marc Nahas - Nabil Nahas - Mohamad El Rawas - Jocelyne Saab - Mario Saba - Marwan Sahmarani - Nada Sehnaoui - Kris Seraphin - Hanibal Srouji - Anita Toutikian - Katya Traboulsi Assouad - Paul Wakim - Jean-Pierre Watchi