A platform for young Lebanese artists

BEIRUT: Launched by Fransabank in 1998, JABAL (Jeunes Artistes des Beaux Arts du Liban) aims to promote and exhibit young Lebanese artists and to make art accessible to everyone.

From May 8-12, Downtown’s Le Gray hotel will be transformed into an artistic platform, showcasing paintings, sculptures, photographs, design and video installations from young Lebanese fine artists.

Meaning Young Fine Artists of Lebanon, JABAL provides an opportunity for artists to exhibit their works in a professional environment.

“We want to bring something new for everyone,” Chairman of Fransabank Group Adnan Kassar said at a news conference Tuesday.

The difference between JABAL and many other exhibitions is that the annual exhibition has been held in several regions of the country. In 1998 it was hosted in Burj Sbeih, in Tripoli, while the 2001 edition took place in Zouk Mikael’s Beit el-Herafi, and in 2004 the venue was the Paul Guiragossian Museum in New Jdeideh. This diversity exemplifies the dual ambition of JABAL: promoting work by young Lebanese artists from all over the country, and ensuring that access to this artwork is not limited – like so much of Lebanon’s artistic production – to a Beiruti elite.

Thanks to JABAL, many artists have earned international fame, among them Ayman Baalbaki, Randa Hermes, Manuella Guiragossian and Taline Kechichian.

“We want to support the young creators,” said JABAL artistic director Laure d’Hauteville. D’Hauteville and fellow JABAL art director Pascal Odille are also director and artistic director of Beirut’s annual art fair, which was launched in 2010 and is due to return for a fourth edition this September.

In a society with an active cultural scene, it is sometimes hard for young and emerging creators and artists to expose themselves to public attention. JABAL brings them to light and promotes their authentic creativity.

“JABAL is a springboard for young creations,” Odille said. “We need a renewal. It is about time we have an artistic renaissance.”

This exhibition is all about potential – introducing to the public and to art aficionados what young Lebanese artists are capable of achieving.

The JABAL artistic committee will have to choose 30 artists based on a selection of 100 files, which can be submitted to the committee until March 30. The entry criteria are limited, but need to be respected, Odille told The Daily Star. Artists wishing to submit their candidature need to send a portfolio of their work, and should not have participated in an exhibition in an art gallery.

No specific criteria about the type of art are given, showing JABAL’s interest in nurturing artists’ originality, and giving them the freedom to paint, sculpt or photograph whatever they deem necessary and attractive.

JABAL focuses on “discovering the new contemporary creations [of Lebanon],” according to d’Hauteville.

Some may find the choice to host this exhibition in a hotel odd. However, Le Gray hotel stands out from other hotels thanks to its interest in the arts. More than 500 paintings are displayed in the hotel, making it a sort of artistic hub.

“Art is a noble way of expression, and whatever it expresses, it stays beautiful,” wrote general manager of Le Gray hotel Rana el-Khoury in the press release. “It’s within the objective of promoting a cultural and artistic dynamism among young people and encouraging Lebanese talents that Le Gray Hotel has the pleasure to support JABAL.”

Those interested in submitting their work can contact or fill out an online application at:

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 13, 2013, on page 16.




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