The world’s leading curators, designers, artists and art fraternities are flocking to Beirut as the premier contemporary and modern Beirut Art Fair is back with a bang. The fifth edition of the show opens to the public on September 18 and runs through September 21, and it promises to host the most expansive program of events.
Considered as the region’s must-attend event for art collectors, connoisseurs and professionals, the Beirut Art Fair will showcase almost every artistic medium ranging from paintings, sculptures, works on paper and photography to videos, installations and performance arts.
This month, the Beirut Art Fair will be the place to mingle with artists and art lovers and deep-pocketed collectors from around the world. 50 select galleries and artworks by over 1,500 artists will be complemented by special projects, exhibits, and dynamic cultural offerings.
In recent years, the fair has been established as an incomparable springboard for galleries and artists, for the exciting space it creates for thought-provoking dialogue and events. In a grand new departure from the previous years, the fair is also riding a wave of increased visibility for artists from the sub-continent.
The genius behind bringing India to the Beirut Art Fair is French critic and curator Fabrice Bousteau. The show, entitled “Small Art is Beautiful – Dharma,” will feature small-format works by Indian artists from the likes of heavy weights Subodh Gupta, known as the “Damien Hirst of Delhi” to young emerging artists. “The exhibition presents, through a selection of small format works, the transformations of an artistic scene which is constantly growing, changing and evolving, expressive and lively, strong and fragile, active particle and constituent power of the world of contemporary art at the same time” says Bousteau.
“Body Politics,” a program consisting of a series of art films from the Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, explores how contemporary artists comment on current political and social issues through the human body or those of others and promises to be a highlight. For those visitors wanting to learn from the master himself, an engraving workshop by Fadi Mogabgab will be on the offing.
Founded in 2010, Beirut Art Fair has gradually become the region’s most successful fair that provides unique access to the MENASA art market.
Out of 18,000 visitors last year, there were notable collectors from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Asia, and Europe.
Laure d’ Hauteville, Founder and Fair Director acknowledges, “Our motivation is to build avenues between cultures, between the Middle East, Europe and Asia.”
Beirut is gearing up to host some 20,000 visitors and experts and total sales of US 4 million dollars. This is a huge improvement on its first edition, which saw 3,500 footfalls, 30 galleries and sales of US 800,000 dollars.
Among the diverse contingent of galleries, four of the most prestigious galleries, Galerie Janine Rubeiz, Lebanon, Bouillon d’Art Gallery in Bordeaux, France, Sana Gallery (Asia’s first Contemporary Middle Eastern Art online platform), Singapore, and Chicago-based Jennifer Norback Fine Art, took time out of their preparations to speak exclusively with bazaar.
Galerie Janine Rubeiz has participated in all the editions of the Beirut Art Fair since 2010 and this year is representing 16 artists, presenting a selection of the Lebanese contemporary art.
“In spite of the different concerns and approaches that the artists take in their creative research, they all belong to the same bigger art family,” notes Galerie Janine Rubeiz.
“A choice of sculptures, paintings, photography, drawing… and a divergence in the themes but a collective vision arise, similar concerns, a common exclamation by the artists of the gallery unanimously directed to message of peace for a future, of a changing and growing Lebanon.”
Meanwhile, Sana Fine Arts houses Sana Gallery’s private collection and serves as a platform for new images and ideas about the Middle East.
“The Middle East is undergoing an era of unprecedented upheaval, often referred to as the Arab Spring. From Morocco to Iran, societies are in the midst of wrenching transformations. The contemporary art scene has been flourishing in the Middle East, and it is being bolstered by the extraordinary political, social and economic changes under way,” explains Sana Gallery.
“The Arab Spring is young and it is but a phase in a long process of change in the Middle East. At Sana Gallery, we anticipate that the explosive creativity we are witnessing across the Middle East will endure for decades, as the Arab Spring evolves and metamorphoses.”
Chicago’s Jennifer Norback Fine Art specializes in representing artists from Chicago and Paris with a focus on contemporary art.
“At the Art Fair, we will be representing two artists, South African Vivian van Blerk and Lebanese artist Katya Trablousy – both photographers are debuting new work including two collaborative pieces. But our gallery represents more than two dozen artists in a variety of mediums,” says Jennifer Norback.
Bouillon d’art from Bordeaux, France, was born from the desire to promote young artists to the forefront of the art scene. The gallery stands out for its atypical choices.
“The gallery will exhibit a range of works by four artists: Amey, Benjamin Carbonne, Clément Loisel and Jean Christophe Fischer, who share a strong identity as a common factor in their work,” notes Sabine Labregere.
Kuwait’s JAMM Art Gallery will also be participating in the fair.
So save the date, and get ready for an art awakening. The fair is bound to be a sensory feast for all art lovers.
Beirut Art Fair runs Sept 18 – 21 at BIEL, Hall 2, Beirut, Lebanon. For more information, please visit www.menasart-fair.com.
Images courtesy: Beirut Art Fair/ galleries