The eighth edition of Beirut Art Fair opened its doors yesterday, hosting 51 galleries from 23 countries at BIEL, with sections for promoting young talents and celebrating established artists. With 1,400 works of art on show, the fair set out to highlight contemporary art in Lebanon and the Arab world, while engaging with artists and collectors from America, Europe and Asia. The centerpiece of this year’s fair, “Ourouba, The Eye of Lebanon,” is a 62-work exhibition curated by Lebanese-Iranian author and contemporary arts specialist Rose Issa. The collection looks back through 15 years of art in this region, exploring what it means to be an Arab in a region associated with conflict.
“We chose Rose because we wanted an exhibition that we could not have in another Arab country and wanted to show to the public that in Lebanon we don’t have censorship in arts. It was also important to show the history of the Arab world for the past 15 years and it shows that the collectors are supporting and interested in these topics too.”
Fair founder and Director Laure d’Hauteville
The exhibited works are varied, with paintings, photos, sculptures and installations of all sizes, highlighting vastly different topics. One piece by Palestinian-Lebanese contemporary artist Mona Hatoum, “Door mat,” 1996, is a black welcome mat made entirely of nails – an allusion to how refugees are welcomed in but have no rights. Lebanese artist Ayman Baalbaki’s work is more retrospective, looking back through his experience of Lebanon’s Civil War and the marks it has left on the country.
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