AMMAN- In an effort to offer promotional support for emerging Lebanese artists, the Beirut Art Fair took to social media and through an open call, allocated 196 various artistic submissions from all walks of life in just 4 days.

Tony Mhanna, WRAITH (Reviving Lebanon Heritage), 2019, Photography on Hahnemuhle Photo Glass Baryta, Ed 2 of 5, 120×80 cm

Of these submissions, 7 were finally chosen to be highlighted on the Fair’s social media accounts. Covering an array of art specialties, the highlighted artists are Tony Mhanna, Zeinab Khalifeh, Basile Ghosn, Lea Skayem, Salah Missi, Michelle Maluf and Camilia Salamé.

Zeinab Khalifeh, One Moment on 40 Years, 2017, Photography on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, Ed 2 of 6, 3 AP, 50×70 cm

The initiative could not have come at a better time. After the devastating August explosion in Beirut, the ongoing economic crisis as well as the covid-19 pandemic, support for Lebanese artists is needed now more than ever. In her own words, Beirut Art Fair Founder and Director Laure d’Hauteville said the aim of this open call was to “give back confidence to the artists, to accompany them in their creation, to help them live from their art, and to develop with them international initiatives”.

Basile Ghosn, La main gauche de la nuit (torres blancas), 2019, Architectural tracing print, found glass, steel, unique piece, 106×62 cm © Aurélien Meimaris

Each of the 7 artists will be highlighted on the fair’s social media channels between December 3rd and December 9th with one day dedicated to a single artist and a single artwork. The artworks will also be available for acquisition through the Fair in an effort to support the artists. The 7 works of art explore various areas of identity, be it regional, cultural, gender and collective through a number of different media including photography, sculpture and painting.

Lea Skayem, Please Read Instructions Carefully, 2019, Photography on Epson Premium Luster, Ed 1 of 5, 29,7×42 cm

At a closer look, artist Tony Mhanna allows the ghosts of the past to come back home contrasting with Zeinab Khalifeh who in her work, immortalizes the outcasts of society and saves them from becoming ones themselves. Basile Ghosn manipulates architectural iconography and delivers image-illusions in order to re-establish a new social and aesthetic order through a work of manual composition and graphic construction. Lea Skayem explores, through her staged photographic self-portraits, the difficulties of inhabiting a woman’s body in a conservative society.

Salah Missi, Endless Loop, 2019, Charcoal on paper, Unique piece, 150×150 cm

Salah Missi’s purified charcoal denounces the corruption of leaders in the Arab world that drowns the human; here his characters, isolated from their environment, intertwine in a state of despair and powerlessness. While inspired by her Lebanese-Colombian heritage, Michelle Maluf’s tapestry combines ancestral techniques and contemporary elements in order to create a harmonious contrast of materials, allegory of the Lebanese diversity.

Michelle Maluf, Bright Side, 2019, Leather and yarn, Unique piece, 150×105 cm

Lastly, Camilia Salamé’s sculpture installation is a memorial to the Bald Ibis, a bird whose species has now disappeared after being last seen in 2015 during the destruction of Palmyra. Considered as the sacred bird that brought the olive branch to Noah after the Flood, it is a figure of the rebirth but also of the loss of cultural and natural heritage. This poetic work is an allegory of the eternal link between man and the earth.

Camila Salame, ‘Omen’ – Memorial to a lost bird, 2019, olive tree branch, brass, gold leaf on limestone, unique piece 1AP, 14x31x15 cm on variable dimensions

Dates for the 11th edition of Beirut Art Fair are yet to be determined. Follow Beirut Art Fair on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with the ongoing artist highlight campaign running until December 9th.