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Zamaan offers a cavern for Lebanese art
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BEIRUT: For another consecutive year, Hamra’s Zamaan Gallery is hosting a treasure trove of Lebanese art. “Palettes Libanaises” welcomes a large panel of artists in an exhibition that plays homage to Lebanese artistic production in a wide variety of genres. From abstract to figurative art, along with classical portraits, this collective exhibition by 27 artists shows the diversity of some of Zamaan’s most-cherished artists.

Hussam Sarieddine’s paintings plunge viewers into a classical world in which he has tried to denote traditional aspects of Lebanese culture. Old towns, archetypal houses, an elderly man falling asleep; everything comes together to represent an archaic lifestyle.

There is a special focus on Jacqueline al-Achkar Lebbos, whose paintings contain childlike features that may plunge some viewers into their childhood memories. Flowery landscapes, fruits, natural scenery – Lebbos’ art palette is certainly wide but it may lack a bit of depth or perspective. Some works are too two-dimensional.

Gallerist Moussa Kobeissi explained to The Daily Star that artist Haidar Hamaouy was exceptionally talented and could draw a landscape in less than one minute. Hamaouy’s untitled works on show at the gallery mainly portray the seaside with boats and lighthouses in cheerful, brightly colored tableaux that would work on well on a postcard.

Hussein Hussein’s large untitled landscape painting is quite intriguing. The technique used by the artist is similar to pointillism, though the textured surface of the work looks as though it has been achieved using cans of spray paint. The dotted impressions on the canvas add a blurry aspect to the work. In the background, viewers can decipher streetlights, cables and trees. The context is unknown, but this is not as important as the feeling triggered by the work. There is a dreamlike atmosphere conveyed throughout the painting, which almost visually immerses viewers into an esoteric world.

As is the risk in collective exhibitions, some paintings may not appeal to everyone. Whether through badly represented features, dimensions not respected or poorly rendered perspectives, these paintings emphasize the fact that art is random and appeals to whoever is able to uncover its attractions.

Zamaan Gallery’s leitmotif is not to exhibit the names of the artists next to the paintings. This method enables onlookers not to be influenced by the reputation of the artist or by the title of the artwork, thus enabling them to judge the work solely based on what they see on the canvases.

Wael Hamadeh’s “Lebanese Blondy,” for instance, may not attract everyone. Although the artist has used vivid – almost psychedelic – colors, its technique may lack a bit of professionalism. Red, purple, yellow and green houses are juxtaposed at the bottom part of the canvas. The rest of it is invaded by a man and woman canoodling.

Both of them are wearing traditional Lebanese outfits: a tarboosh and a belly-dancing outfit. Hamadeh’s paintings were featured in a solo exhibition at Zamaan Gallery last year. His style is quite odd, and may not find favor with all the viewers. However, it’s nice to see such a vivid palette.

Watercolors by Fouad Jaouhar, of the famous classical Lebanese painters, are also displayed, showing Lebanese landscapes. Some onlookers may appreciate his detailed rendering, while others though may not feel compelled to spend a lot of time looking at the artwork.

If you’re looking for an exhibition that gathers a wide range of artworks and different types of technique, then “Palettes Libanaises” is the right show to see.

“Palettes Libanaises” is on show at Zamaan Gallery until Dec. 28. For more information, please call 01-745-571.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 11, 2013, on page 16.
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