I was going to write about art season ending and summer vacation and all that romantic things we usually say to welcome summer. But I erased it all, not that I am against summer-love but I just spent 10 days in craziest city in the Middle East, Istanbul and getting all adrenaline rush! There, I was face-to-face with once-upon-time greatest Empires in history that took over many parts of the world for centuries… Now struggling with its domestic issues and daily protests of disappointment, rage and demand of change… However that imposes itself: change to what?! Isn’t Turkey today a result of change?
Same thing with other parts of Middle East, different events and circumstances and dates of course but the result it one. For example, Civil War in Lebanon devastated the country for 15 years and the aftershock is not other although its almost ended 30 years ago… We all strive for change, and we achieve it because naturally nothing remains the same but are we ready to accept all its consequences? To change, we need to know our proper alternative and the least destroying or the results will be tremendously unpredictable.
We are all cuffed with complicatedly nested events: political, religious or social, their ripple effects are undeniable and Art perfectly documents what is happening and its aftermath, what went wrong and lead to it, the turning points, how people adapted and engaged – or still are – with it and if the crisis is over… is it really over?! Two Top Destinations cascades this dilemma for June: (This Skin: Six Artists From Beirut) at the recently opened and massively successful Taymour Grahne Gallery in NYC, a show curated by one of contemporary & modern Arab art distinguished curators Saleh Barakat. And (Syria’s Apex Generation) a collective show of five established Syrian artists at one of leading and renowned galleries in Middle East, Ayyam Gallery and curated by art historian and Ayyam Gallery Artistic Director Maymanah Farhat.
Two group exhibitions, one depicts the fallout of war while the second exposes new wave of art amid war. Both introduces a generation of Middle Eastern contemporary artists stating their ripple-wave circumstances. Enjoy!
Destination One: This Skin: Six Artists From Beirut at Taymour Grahne Gallery, NYC
Flight Dates: 3 June – 2 July 2014
(Source: Taymour Grahne Gallery) To document, tame and confront a ghostly space is to define a surface that carries within it abyss and utopia. Presented by Taymour Grahne Gallery, this exhibition examines the relationship of a generation of artists within the living, breathing city of Beirut. Following years of civil war and the evolving reality of contemporary Lebanon, the skin of the city is becoming increasingly porous, intricate and fragmented, as echoed by its physical landscape – pock-marked and at times interrupted by cavernous holes gouged into the urban fabric.
This is the central subject of Thin Skin. Curated by Saleh Barakat, the show samples paintings from the oeuvres of six artists who live and work in the city of Beirut: Ayman Baalbaki, Mohamad-Said Baalbaki, Oussama Baalbaki, Tagreed Darghouth, Omar Fakhoury, and Nadia Safieddine. In individual and at times very intimate ways, the artists consider their living environment as the subject of their paintings, representing the textured surface of daily life. Their works together reflect a state of stasis. Stasis, a term used in Ancient Greece to designate a political, moral or social crisis resulting from an internal conflict within a state or city, can also be translated into terms of discord, decadence, civil war and revolt. It does not recognize any law, nor any limit.
Renowned curator Saleh Barakat is an expert in contemporary and modern Arab art. Through Agial Art Gallery, which he opened in Beirut in 1991, he has been a pioneering force behind the growing global understanding of and appreciation for Arab artists. In 2007, Barakat co-curated the first Lebanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, which included Taymour Grahne Gallery artist Lamia Joreige, among others. Barakat has also curated several groundbreaking shows at the Beirut Exhibition Center, including retrospectives for Lebanese modern masters Shafic Abboud in 2012 and Saloua Raouda Choucair in 2011.About Taymour Grahne Gallery
Taymour Grahne Gallery opened its doors in September 2013, and is located in a 4,000 square foot space located in the heart of TriBeCa, New York City. Reflecting the art world’s increasingly global reality, Taymour Grahne Gallery aims to showcase and highlight artists from across the world, including the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia, South America and their Diasporas. The gallery’s mission is to create a global space for the arts in the heart of New York City.
Destination Two: Syria’s Apex Generation at Ayyam Gallery, Dubai & Beirut
Flight Dates: 9 June – 2 August (Dubai) | 11 June – 2 August (Beirut)
(Source: Ayyam Gallery) Ayyam Gallery is pleased to announce Syria’s Apex Generation, an exhibition featuring works by artists Nihad Al Turk, Abdul Karim Majdal Al-Beik, Othman Moussa, Mohannad Orabi, and Kais Salman. Curated by art historian and Ayyam Gallery Artistic Director Maymanah Farhat, the exhibition will spotlight a new school of Syrian painting in the midst of expansion despite the disintegration of the Damascus art scene, its original centre. This multi-venue group show will be held at Ayyam Gallery’s Alserkal Avenue and DIFC locations in Dubai from 9 June until 2 August, and at its Beirut location from 11 June until 2 August.
Syria’s Apex Generation explores the myriad ways artists are responding to the current conflict in Syria through multifaceted works that reflect a new phase of the country’s contemporary art. Focusing on painters who launched their careers in the 2000s when the Damascus art scene experienced significant growth, the exhibition will demonstrate how these artists have contributed to the catapulting of Syrian art over the past decade, which reached a high point just before the onset of the war.
Building on the aesthetic currents set in motion by Syria’s modernists in the late 1950s, the featured artists navigate the magnitude of the Syrian conflict with allegory, satire, and realism in works that hint at the influence of preceding artists such as modernists Louay Kayyali and Fateh Moudarres and contemporary painters Moustafa Fathi, Saad Yagan, and Safwan Dahoul. Informed by rich histories of expressionism, symbolism, and abstraction, this burgeoning group has forged ahead with the creative objectives of their predecessors, who advocated the social relevance of art.
The included painters were first brought together through the Shabab Ayyam incubator program for young artists in 2007 and quickly formed (with other selected artists) a tight-knit intellectual circle that proved crucial to their development. Today, although scattered between Damascus, Beirut, and Dubai, Al Turk, Majdal Al-Beik, Moussa, Orabi, and Salman continue to create works linked by artistic threads that emerged during the early stage of their grouping. Leading their generation, they are currently extending the boundaries of representation and perceived functions of art that have shaped Syrian visual culture for over sixty years.About Ayyam Gallery
Founded in Damascus in 2006, Ayyam Gallery is recognised as a leading cultural voice in the region, representing a roster of Middle Eastern artists with an international profile and museum presence. Spaces in Beirut, Dubai, Jeddah, and London have further succeeded in showcasing the work of Middle Eastern artists with the aim of educating a wider audience about the art of this significant region.