The Thriving Lebanese Artistic Scene


The poignant artistic drive that runs through Lebanese veins has always positioned the country, and specially its capital Beirut as an artistic hotspot in the Middle East. The reason for such creativity has often been attributed to the tension between Eastern and Western influences that converge in this region. Lebanese artists have had to stretch their expression beyond this dilemma, to achieve a unique style that transcends this duality. 

Being an artist in a country agitated by political conflicts, civil unrest and occasional economic crisis has demanded the artistic community of Lebanon not only to voice their anguishes and document this turbulent history, but also to portray the intellectuality and creativity of the Lebanese people to the world, showing that beyond the restlessness, there is revolutionary intellectuality and creativity in Lebanon’s art.

In recent times, the Beirut Art Fair has represented a major catalyst for the growth and flourishing of this community, not only bringing visibility to Lebanese art, but serving as a platform for the exchange of cultural influences amongst artists from all across the Middle East, and giving this region more notice in the whole world. 

The struggle for reconstruction is a remarkable theme in Lebanese art, and more than that, it is an undeniable part of its history. Even when war did not disrupt the flow of artistic production, Lebanese artists had to deal with a catastrophic blast that damaged most art institutions that make Beirut’s art scene. Galleries, museums and artistic institutions were destroyed by the waves of a terrible explosion of a colossal stock of ammonium nitrate in 2020, leaving a trail of destruction around the city.

Alongside the pandemic, this event dramatically affected the community of people dedicated to producing art in Lebanon, requiring this community to pull off an unimaginable amount of energy, resources and creativity to reestablish itself. 

Nowadays, in spite of all the struggles that have marked Lebanese art history, local artists continue to thrive and innovate, exploring new platforms and spaces such as digital art and using the power of art to create new possibilities for themselves. 

One noticeable example of innovation in this field is Sarah Saroufim, a Lebanese artist exploring the digital realm with her original style that takes shape in her shades of gray palette. Her art is at the forefront of a new generation of young and versatile artists that experiment with optical illusions, conceptual imagery all the while bringing space to relevant themes of our contemporaneity such as female empowerment as well as proposing the audience to look at itself in the mirror, with an art that reflects a portrait of our attempt to fill in the blank spaces in our reality.

Alongside Sarah Sourafim, a vibrant community of Beiruti artists continue to proclaim their resilience opening new online galleries, exhibitions and maintaining their game changing role in the art world.

Written by Yasmim Franceschi exclusively for sooqbeirut
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