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Beirut Design Week 2017

In its sixth consecutive year, Beirut Design Week 2017 starts today May 19th! The event showcases the best of Lebanese and international design in various location around Beirut. Visit their program, you wouldn’t want to miss it.

Daily Schedule here.

Bokja, Homesick Saifi Village, 22nd of May

Outside of defining the concept of home as a space, home is a sentiment one forms after repeated engagement with object, place, or situation. In thinking about longing for home, Bokja ponders on how spawning fish, after years away from their places of origin, navigate longs distances back to the location where they were birthed.For BDW, Bokja celebrates the home and a fishy sense of belonging to it.


Nada Debs, Mix & Match – Saifi Village, 22nd of May

Mix & Match is a collaboration born out of the interaction between two Lebanese designers recognized in different disciplines yet sharing a common love for the region’s ancestral design and craft. In this edition, Tarek Moukkadem brings with him his exuberance and his playful artistic expressions with Nada Debs’ constant pursuit for the re-invention of established traditional designs.

From this collaboration is born a modular, playful re-interpretation of the all-so-famous Levantine Tarabeza. Made from a combination of colored MDF plates that have been glued and turned in a traditional form, matched with noble materials with its simple brass tripod legs and Mother of Pearl inlayed rings, the Tarabeza is made even more a-typical by its modularity with tops ranging from a flower vase to a candle holder, a carved bowl and a lamp, ensuring craft remains at the heart of the product. The result of this melting pot of connections – from the wide spectrum of material used to the colors and functions of the Tarabeza – make this piece a true incarnation of the ‘Mix and Match’ approach.



Starch Foundation, Unbounded – Saifi Village, 22nd of May

For the 2017 generation of Starch foundation, BURAU architects present Unbounded, an installation that acts as a response to increasing urban manifestations of control and obstructing security measures. Creative space Beirut graduate Roni Helou launched Element X, a collection that follows the journey of feminism and mar?aben unveiled softsolids01, a series of wearable crochet objects. Finally, Sahar Khraibani released a series of limited edition silkscreen prints entitled “Silence was Heavy, so Time had to be Weightless”. Location: Starch boutique, Saifi Village.


Vick Vanlian – Saifi Village, 22nd of May

Rectangular dining table WE ONE

The table is made of light-weight concrete and straw marquetry that are aligned in geometric patterns, a reminder that all our essence is based on geometry, even our own DNA.
The metal base is a reminder that we are rooted to mother earth.
The concrete represents the strength and the power we have when we are all as one uniting us for a better and stronger future.

Round dining table LIFE

The table is made of light-weight concrete and colored straw marquetry that are sprouting from the center like a ray of light representing the life we have, which would not be possible without the power of the sun.
The concrete represents the strength and power we have when we are all as one, uniting us for a better and stronger future.


Joy Mardini, It’s all Relavtive; Customization & Modularity – Gemmayze, 23rd of May

The exhibition highlights one of the central pillars of the discipline of product design, specifically the relevance of customizability and modularity. The show also brings to the foreground how designers can frame their practice and address the demands for customizability in the design market.


Beirut Art Residency, Render – Gemmayze, 23rd of May

Joy Mardini Design Gallery (JMDG) in association with Beirut Art Residency (BAR) have launched the inaugural edition of render the design residency in Beirut. Two international designers, Francesco Pace and Anne-Claire Hostequin, were selected to participate in the residency for a duration of two months and inquire into the Beirut design scene.


Donna Levinstone’s Divine Landscapes

Donna Levinstone is an active visual artists that works from her studio in Long Island City. Her pieces are made of pastel and can be described as “Lightscapes”. She is resolved on calling them so because they are mostly representations of vast seascapes caught in moments of divine light.
The accuracy and life-like aspect of her pieces are remarkable. One would say they are actual photographs before one gets a chance to take a closer look at the fine pastel work put into each one.

Her most recent series catches one’s attention for it’s scale and sense of none-linear narrative. She created a collection of gigantic landscapes contained within five by five centimeter squares. It has always been fascinating to me to come across artist who are capable of expressing an expanse of land on a small surface of paper. Even thought Levinstone has worked with pastoral themes in the past, she is embracing darkness in her latest works and is trying to sincerely captivate a landscape in the depth of the night by asking herself the question: “Is the bright and sunny only healing?”. Levinstone is exploring what it is to have a successful landscape. Someone once said that to do so you simply must have a blue sky and green land but she is meditating on what it means to have a little bit more mystery as opposed to just having a “pretty picture”.

Levinstone pulls out a drawer of carefully laid out black and white landscapes she recently finished. Perplexed by certain details she points out by a hand gesture such as the richness of colour that exits in the grayscale or the faces that appear in clouds, she feels like she is a mere conduit of a greater message. It is a continuous process to relieve one’s soul from the bondage of self so one may do his or her work with greater transparency. Levinstone is an artist who has lived most of her life in the city but finds her truth in the open skies. Her practice lives in the act of longing for something that isn’t there.

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” from the song Anthem by Leonard Cohen perfectly speaks to Levinstone’s artistic efforts.

Exilic Pleasures

Bringing a museum like feel to the gallery world of New York City’s Chelsea, the Leila Heller Gallery has partnered up with curator Rowland Weinstein, to bring back the advent of surrealism in a very specific context. Exilic Pleasures runs from April 27th to June 17th 2017.

Weinstein started as a collector. The very first work he bought was as a junior in college. It was a Salvador Dali Lithograph for USD 2,900 while he was working at a YMCA teaching preschool. “It was an act of complete and total insanity” he says. It was the start of his passion. Over the years, it has developed into a more focused collection of surrealism and abstraction works.
He is interested in the art movement that came to the United States in the 1930s, the influx of the surrealists to New York around the time of World War II. Weinstein notes that the creativity that comes from catastrophe is very often astounding and extremely creative.

One of his favorite pieces by Gordon Oslow Ford entitled “Horizon of the Mews” is one of the pieces that inaugurated Weinstein’s collection. He explains that the piece is important because this form of automatism in painting is called “Coulage” which means the brush doesn’t touch the canvas. It’s somehow painting through air.

Another Interesting work displayed was the “Armoire Anthropmorphe” (1939) by Argentinian artist Leonor Fin. It’s a strangely shaped piece of furniture that takes the form of two metamorphosed swan women who apparently portray Fin’s facial features. The artist often explores the theme of half human, half animal. It was made for a surrealist design show that she also organized in Paris.

Weinstein has something to say about each piece exhibited at the show and one could spend hours discussing all of their origins. His passion for purchasing, collecting and lending his pieces to museums stems from the idea that he doesn’t think he truly owns the pieces. They have been entrusted to him and he is merely extending their lives through his interest and investments.

Architectural Dialogue

Ettore Sottsass was one of the great architects of the 20th century. This year, in celebration of the centennial of Sottsass’ birth, architect Charles Zana is staging a special exhibit as part of the Venice Biennale that links the work of Sottsass with that of another famed architect: Carlo Scarpa.

Scarpa and Sottsass were born in 1906 and 1907 respectively, and they both came of age during an era when Modernism reigned supreme. Yet, instead of following the dominant minimalist trend, the two Italian architects rejected Modernism and opted instead to create lively and colorful designs.

Zana’s current show, “Dialogue – Ettore Sottsass and Carlo Scarpa,” features over 60 ceramic works created by Sottsass between 1957 and 1970 for Il Sestante Gallery, all of them displayed inside Venice’s Negozio Olivetti building, which was designed by Scarpa in 1957. Seeking to create a dialogue between the two contemporaries, Zana has gathered Sottsass’ ceramic pieces from private collectors and strategically placed them inside Negozio Olivetti, seeking to blur the boundaries between art and design.

Works on display include Sottsass’ Ceramiche di Lava vases, colorful and made of clay, and produced by Bitossi, as well as the Rocchetti and Isolatori, which feature an industrial aesthetic. The Tantra vases, produced in 1969, were made from sandstone and inspired by India. Another piece, the Yantra, which was produced in series in 1970, is also inspired by India, transposing as it does the mandala onto a ceramic object.

The space in which the ceramics are displayed, Negozio Olivetti, is as distinctive as Sottsass’ pieces. Scarpa spent two years conceiving the Piazza San Marco space, focusing on noble materials and abundant transparencies, to create a store for Olivetti. The space was recently renovated and transformed into a museum showcasing an incredible collection of Olivetti typewriters. It’s to Scarpa’s credit that he was able to create such a breathtaking space in a city full of architectural icons.

For this latest exhibit, Zana replaced the Olivetti typewriters with Sottsass’ ceramics, creating a conversation between the ceramics and the space in which they’re displayed. No stranger to such endeavors, Zana has in the recent past staged shows to highlight the works of such great Italian architects and designers as Michele de Lucchi, Andrea Branzi and Alessandro Mendini. The current Venice show, like previous Zana projects, provides a vibrant testament to the wealth, diversity and enduring importance of Italian design.

“Dialogue – Ettore Sottsass and Carlo Scarpa” runs until August 20 at the Negozio Olivetti in Venice.

Creatures of the Wild


Downtown Beirut’s premier art space, Opera Gallery, has teamed up with Animals Lebanon, one of the country’s leading organizations actively working for the protection and welfare of animals, to host “Giving Back to Nature.” This new exhibit aims to highlight the power of nature and wildlife, while attempting to explain how animals have affected humans through the ages.

Animals have always fascinated humankind. Even at the dawn of history, cavemen drew animals on the walls of their dwellings, recreating what they witnessed in the wild. In Ancient Egypt, many Gods boasted animal shapes, while in North America, long before the arrival of the Europeans, the famed totemic statues often represented animals, reflecting the Native Americans’ belief that animals were connected to the spirit of the Gods.

The Opera Gallery exhibit illustrates nature’s impact on art by showcasing important pieces that featured animals at their core. Works on view include David Mach’s mind-blowing gorilla sculpture from the “Coathangers” series, made entirely from wire hangers. Mach’s work is particularly significant in this instance because his sculptures seem to exist in a mysterious, ethereal dimension, and they look as if they could vanish at any moment, much like the wild’s endangered species.

Other works that form part of the exhibit include Andy Warhol’s “Pink Cow on Yellow Background,” Mauro Corda’s fantastical sculpture of a panther with what appear to be gazelle horns, and Richard Orlinski’s “Crocodile (Red),” a delightful sculpture of a crocodile in red made from resin. Pascal Haudressy’s “The Frog and the Crow,” also on view, provides a statement on the deep changes of the modern era, in which biological entities now coexist with virtual beings. Haudressy’s haunting work is a result of a mixed artistic technique that encompasses resin, painting, wood and video projection.

Through this landmark exhibit, Opera Gallery and Animals Lebanon are attempting to enact a real transformation in local culture, hoping to change people’s perception of animals, in order to end the abuse and brutalization of these beautiful creatures.

“Giving Back to Nature” is on view until June 3 at Opera Gallery in Downtown Beirut.

Satellite Shows at the Venice Biennale 2017

The Venice Biennale 2017, titled Viva Arte Viva and curated by Christine Marcel,  will be showcasing along with the pavilions, phenomenal satellite shows you should not miss.


Damien Hirst at Palazzo Grassi

Damien Hirst’s Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable takes place at the Palazzo Grassi and is curated by Elena Geuna. For the first time, these two venues, Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, are dedicated to a single artist.



“The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied” presented by Fondazione Prada

“The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied.” is an incredible transmedia exhibition project, created by an on-going exchange between writer and filmmaker Alexander Kluge, artist Thomas Demand, stage and costume designer Anna Viebrock and curator Udo Kittelmann. The show will be showcased at the Fondazione Prada’s Venetian venue unfolding on three storeys – ground floor and two main ones.



Philip Guston and the Poets organized by Le Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia in collaboration with the Estate of Philip Guston.

‘Philip Guston and The Poets’ is curated by Prof. Dr. Kosme de Barañano and includes 50 major paintings and 25 prominent drawings dating from 1930 until Philip Guston’s death in 1980.



Rita Kernn-Larsen by Peggy Guggenheim Collection

The Peggy Guggenheim collection presents Rita Kernn-Larsen’s exquisite surrealist paintings.
‘The Surrealist period was splendid… it truly was the best time for me as an artist.’- Rita Kernn-Larsen



Jacob Hashimoto & Emil Lukas at Palazzo Flangini

The End of Utopia will be showcased at Palazzo Flangini. Jacob Hashimoto and Emil Lukas, two internationally known American artists were invited by Studio la Città Gallery to stage the show.

Venice Biennale 2017

The Venice Biennale 2017 titled Viva Arte Viva, opens to the public this Saturday 13th of May, at Giardini and Arsenale. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss!


Russian PavilionTheatrum Orbis

Artist: Grisha Bruskin, Recycle Group, Sasha Pirogova
Commissioner: Semyon Mikhailovsky
Curator: Semyon Mikhailovsky
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini
Giardini 7

Japanese Pavilion: Turned Upside Down, It’s a Forest

Artist: Takahiro Iwasaki
Commissioner: The Japan Foundation
Curator: Meruro Washida
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini
Giardini 8

French Pavilion: Studio Venezia

Artist: xavier Veilhan
Commissioner: Institut francais, with Ministere de la Culture et de la Communication
Curator: Lionel Bovier, Christian Marclay
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini
Giardini 10

British Pavilion: Folly

Artist: Phyllida Barlow
Commissioner: Emma Dexter
Curator: Harriet Cooper, Delphine Allier
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini
Giardini 12

German Pavilion: Anne Imhof

Artist: Anne Imhof
Commissioner: ifa (Institut fur Auslandsbeziehungen) on behalf of the Federal Foreign Office
Curator: Susanne Pfeffer
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini
Giardini 13

American Pavilion: Tomorrow is Another Day

Artist: Mark Bradford
Commissioner: Christopher Bedford, Dorothy Wagner Wailis Director, The Baltimore Museum of Art, and Adjunct Professor of the Practice in Fine Arts, Brandeis University
Curator: Christopher Bedford and Katy Siegel, Senior Programming and Research Curator, The Baltimore Museum of Art
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini
Giardini 18


Chinese Pavilion: Continuum – Generation by Generation

Artists: Tang Nannan, Wu Jian’an, Wang Tianwen, Yao Huifen
Commissioner: China Arts and Entertainment Group
Curator: Qiu Zhijie
Venue: Pavilion at Arsenale 1

Italian Pavilion: Il Mondo Magico

Artist: Giorgio Andreotta Calo, Roberto Cuoghi, Adelita Husni-Bey
Commissioner: Federica Galloni, Direttore Generale Arte e Architettura Contemporanee e Periferie Urbane, Ministero dei Beni e delle Attivita Culturali e del Turismo
Curator: Cecilia Alemani
Venue: Pavilion at Arsenale
Arsenale 2

Philippines Pavilion: The Spectre of Comparison

Artist: Lani Maestro, Manuel Ocampo
Commissioner: Virgilio S, Almario Chariman, National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)
Curator: Joselina Cruz
Venue: Pavilion at Arsenale
Arsenale 3

Turkish PavilionÇin

Artist: Cevdet Erek
Commissioner: Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV)
Venue: Pavilion at Arsenale
Arsenale 3

United Arab Emirates Pavilion: Rock, Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play

Artist: Nujoom Alghanem, Sara Al Haddad, Vikram Divecha, Lantian Xie, Mohamed Yousif
Commissioner: The Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation
Curator: Hammad Nasar
Venue: Pavilion at Arsenale
Arsenale 3

The Whimsical World of Reza Shafahi

Reza Shafahi is a self-taught artist who began his painterly career at the age of 72, prior to which he trained as a professional wrestler. This journeying into painting began with the encouragement of his son at the age of 72 with the encouragement of his son, Mamali who in 2012 invited his father to collaborate on the long-term art project, Daddy Sperm (2013-2015).

His influences are varied and include literature, Khayyam poems, cinema and world news past and present. A distinct drawing practice ensued and Shafahi has developed a signatory drawing style that brings together an otherworldly fascination capturing the fantastical and erotic. His work draws from the imagination and from beings that exist in the realm of dreams. It is no wonder then that his work is often labelled as part of the Outsider Art movement, a term that almost immediately signals that an artist has learnt their skill self-taught, and that their works exist as ‘raw’, ‘uncooked’ or ‘unadulterated’ by culture. We do however observe how the ‘outsider’ enters into the very culture that excludes them as exemplified by the prominence today one of the most celebrated artists of this genre, Henry Darger who was unknown throughout his life.

Shafahi’s works draw the viewer into a whimsical world of bodies that are drawn with simplicity but at the same time demonstrate confidence and it is this raw vision that is most appealing in his delicate drawings. Yes, he brings in recognisable Persian motifs that one can distinctly trace back to the times of miniature painting, but his works, with their cheeky interpretation of the past, are also thrilling to encounter. Bodies being naughty and hidden by the green shrubbery of thick forests, smiling severed heads that cross gender and race boundaries, antique vases with eyes that see, all examples of the artist’s free-association, the Freudian practice promoting sharing whatever comes to mind now rendered as drawings. What happens when we are confronted with really expressing our thoughts? What might be revealed through drawing our dreams? Shafahi seems to ask of these questions through these drawings? It is also important to note here how women feature extensively in these works as free and expressive beings in Shafahi’s world, which indeed should be a cause for celebration.

Having exhibited as part of Magic of Persia, Dubai, Marlborough Gallery, New York, and a solo show at the Erratum Galerie, Berlin, it seems that Shafahi’s presence will continue to flourish henceforth.


By Jareh Das

Frieze New York 2017

Frieze New York 2017 opened its doors to the public on May 5th. Situated on Randall’s Island, as every year, one can access it through a ferry departing from a peer in midtown Manhattan. The fair’s tent is comparable to the size of an airport and in ways, is definitely a hub for artists and galleries all around the world. For the 6th edition, the Frieze Projects program features seven commissions curated by Cecilia Alemani (High Line Art, La Biennale di Venezia, 2017). One of the main features is a tribute to an experimental exhibition “Il teatro delle Mostre” (1968) at Galleria La Tartaruga situated in Rome.

I was particularly captivated by the work of Puerto Rican painter Enoc Perez at the Peter Blum Gallery, an artist that has been living in New York for the past 30 years. The show called “Embassy Paintings” is a series of colourful works depicting architectural landscapes of American embassies around the world. He considers them to be sanctuaries and believes that this is a very appropriate moment to look at those institutions. Not only is the United States a country but it is also an idea that is under attack nowadays. His work has the effect of holding a mirror up to people, with the intention of reflecting who they think they are and what it is they are becoming.

A strong current of painting seemed to dominate the fair this year out of which the German painter Dieter Krieg (1937-2005) stole the show. Exhibited by Galerie Klaus Gerrit Friese, a large painting of a seagull next to a flag that reads: “Bier” was drawing in the eyes of people crossing by. Klaus Gerrit Friese represents the estate of Dieter Krieg and has been supporting his work for over thirty years.

Joanne Greenbaum’s presentation by the Rachel Uffer Gallery was very nicely laid out as well. An appetizing booth showcasing her paintings, ceramic sculptures, sketchbooks bringing us into her world of narrative abstractions.

In terms of sculpture and installation, Barbara Chase-Riboud at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery was getting a lot of attention. Not shying away from an excessive representation of elementary matter, her monumental metal and fiber abstractions impose themselves upon one’s psyche in an attempt to reconcile the dynamics of soft and hard, male and female, movement and rigidity.

Frieze is not a fair that can be summed up in a sentence although this year, particularly, the fair stands out from all other years in that it seems to be driven primarily by the force of authenticity.

Daily Live updates from Venice

Don’t miss  out on the 57th International Art Exhibition, titled VIVA ARTE VIVA!

The Exhibition is organized by La Biennale di Venezia and will be opened to the public from Saturday May 13th to Sunday November 26th 2017, at the Giardini and the Arsenale venues.


May 11th


May 10th


May 9th