Gallery heralds an Art Deco revival in Beirut

The ARDECO Gallery showroom focuses on modern European art and mid-century design.

BEIRUT: If you’re walking on Trabaud Street in Ashrafieh, you may stumble across a sizable new space dedicated to modern art and designer furniture. ARDECO Gallery – which opened last month – is a venue focusing on modern European art and design, such as tables, decorative objects and sculptures. The Art Deco movement emerged in France after World War I. It combined traditional craft motifs with industrial materials and was characterized by lavish ornamentation, bold colors and geometric shapes. Art Deco objects were said to represent the glamour and beauty of society, along with societal progresses.

Facing the new venue is a smaller one, which opened in 1998, manager Elsie Sikias explained to The Daily Star. The space is dedicated to bringing 1930s to 1960s vintage French furniture to Beirut. They also import items from the renowned Hugues Chevalier and Steiner collections. Most of these pieces are sourced at French auctions.

The newly opened ARDECO Gallery has a different focus. The paintings on show “are mainly [by] artists who lived in the 20th century and who don’t exhibit their works anymore,” Sikias said. “It is the same thing for our furniture, so we don’t compete [with] the other galleries.”

Paintings by European artists adorn the walls with a broad range of genres and techniques. Bas-reliefs, mixed-media works and fauvist paintings come together to create a panorama of 19th-century European cultural production. Many of the artists are relatively unknown, but the gallery provides an opportunity to discover new names and talents.

“We bring a sample of each [artistic] genre that was popular at that time,” Sikias explained, “to see what attracts people.”

The furniture ranges from traditional to modern, with many pieces employing noble materials such as silver and golden leaf. The gallery’s collection changes every three to six months.

ARDECO Gallery is located on Trabaud Street, Ashrafieh. For more information, please call 01-338-785.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 20, 2014, on page 16.




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