Rebirth: Lebanon XXI st Century Contemporary Art

June 16, 2011 to July 24, 2011
Collective - by Ara Azad | Rached Bohsali | Huguette El Khoury Caland | Joseph Chahfe | Bassam Geitani | Laure Ghorayeb | Mazen Kerbaj | Jamil Molaeb | Zad Moultaka | Hanibal Srouji | Jean Pierre Watchi
Beirut Exhibition Center (BEC)

Rebirth: Lebanon XXI st Century Contemporary Art

One Theme, Forty-Nine Visions

by Janine MAAMARI
Exhibition curator


Un être humain n'est vivant que s'il est encore susceptible de mourir et de renaître.
(A human being is only alive when he is still liable to die and be reborn).

The present exhibition, organised in collaboration with Solidere, is articulated around the theme of
'Rebirth,' a concept loaded with multiple present and past memories, as well as personal, social, and historical connotations. It acknowledges the power of art to express human feelings.
In December 2010, the idea was presented to a number of Lebanese artists and galleries, with the Beirut Exhibition Center in mind as a venue for the exhibition.
The artists were challenged to create a new work of art, or present a recent one, inspired by their understanding and comprehension of the theme. They could work freely, with the media of their choice, and use large formats that would suit the venue.
They were requested to present an idea within the first two months of the call for projects, and confirm their participation by February 2011.
Many of those residing abroad still managed to participate, while others had different commitments and could not join. Artists of all ages, half of them women, responded with great enthusiasm to the project. My regular contacts with them, as well as with the galleries, were sustained, warm and friendly.
The diversity of the forty-nine exhibited works (paintings, mixed media installations, videos, photographs, sculptures...) reveals an imaginative interpretation of the theme and a constantly renewed creativity. Most of the works are new, or are shown here for the first time.
Many thoughts, feelings and emotions emerge from the presented works. They open fields of reflection, as suggested by some of the artists:
Is what we call life a continuous process of destruction and recreation?
Following trauma and difficulties, do we still remember the poetry of childhood, or does our selective memory "dress hope into sadness"?
Do we reconstitute our memory and our identity through the experience of a death in the family?
Do we escape from anxiety into over-consump-tion, or are our concerns diverted towards more essential issues?
Is a work of art a "positive space for meditation"
and a link between "the universe and the spiritual self"?
Does a creative work set us free? Either through identification, projection or pure imagination, it might give us the relief of catharsis, sometimes painful, at others fulfilling and serene
Indeed, as Arnold Weinstein stated: "Art makes life visible... Each of us lives once as 'ourself through art we are repeatedly invited to live as
This exhibition does not pretend to be an exhaustive survey of Lebanese art. We do however hope that it shows the freedom, individual-it and aesthetic concerns that characterise our artists, and justify their standing on the international contemporary art scene.
Beyond thematic references, the works' quality speaks for itself. They demand a curious eye and thoughtful reflection on behalf of the visitor.
George Naccache once wrote: "C'est bien ceci que tu es, Liban... Cent fois condamné à mort, tu te contentes de prouver ta vie en vivant." (L'Orient, 17 September 1948) This remains true today, and we trust that the public will discover with pleasure and excitement the vitality that runs through the art of Lebanon.


Participating artists :

Talar AGHBASHIAN - Randa ALI AHMAD - Christina ANID - Zena ASSI - Ara AZAD - Mohammad Said BAALBAKI - Issam BARHOUCH and Zena ASSI - Rached BOHSALI - Huguette CALAND - Joseph CHAHFÉ - Chaouki CHAMOUN - Flavia CODSI - Tagreed DARGHOUTH - Simone FATTAL - Bassam GEITANI - Ghassan GHAZAL - Laure GHORAYEB - Fadia HADDAD - Gilbert HAGE - Dima HAJJAR - Mireille HONEiN - Karim JOREIGE - Hiba KALACHE - Nadim KARAM - Abdulrahman KATANANI - Mazen KERBAJ - Zena EL KHALIL - Elias MAAMARI - Théo MANSOUR - Rania MATAR - Jamil MOLAEB - Roger MOUKARZEL - Zad MOULTAKA - Jean-Marc NAHAS - Mohamad EL RAWAS - Raouf RIFAI -May RISHANI - Joanna RIZK - Mario SABA - Marwan SAHMARANI - Roy SAMAHA - Mouna BASSILI SEHNAOUI - Nada SEHNAOUI - Hanibal SROUJI - TANBAK - Alfred TARAZI - Jean-Pierre WATCHI - Shawki YOUSSEF- Lamia ZIADÉ