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BEIRUT: It sounds like the opening line of a Christmas cracker joke: When is a dead fish beautiful?The Syrian artist is currently in town for "Youssef Abdelke: New Works," now up at Galerie Tanit-Beyrouth. Showcasing some 30 drawings completed since 2011, this is the artist' first solo exhibition since the onset of civil war in his country, close to three years ago, and it was security concerns that finally compelled the artist to exhibit in Beirut. Some of the drawings featured follow in the footsteps of the lauded still lifes Abdelke has been producing for the past two decades.The artist's new direction is marked by the introduction of three major elements – figures, color and words. For the first time in almost 20 years, Abdelke has begun drawing humans. An outspoken political activist, Abdelke was imprisoned for several years in the late 1970s by the regime of Hafez Assad. Two of the works on show deal with events in Egypt, which Abdelke says serves as a positive example to other Arab states seeking to make a break with the past.
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