BEIRUT: Artists saluted the Lebanese Army with explosions of color Thursday, dedicating paintings to the force on Army Day.
“We didn’t want to rally on the streets; we wanted to organize an artistic movement. We wanted to celebrate the Army through our talents - through color, music and poetry,” the director of Montada al-Alwan (Forum of Colors), Mohammad Aloush, told The Daily Star.
“The Army is keeping us in their eyes by protecting us, so we want to see them through the eyes of color."
Aloush said it was a duty of Lebanese artists to stand by the Army because it is the window of hope for the country.
The director lauded the Army’s recent efforts, hailing its sacrifices in the face of terrorism and suicide bombings.
“From the ends of the south all the way to the northern peaks, the Lebanese Army is battling a war on terror - facing fire and ash,” he said.
The artists gathered under a straw tent at Ramlet al-Baida’s shore, setting up canvases and painting equipment around the area.
One canvas was etched with hemp and suede fabric, as the artist blotched abstract shapes against a dark background.
In contrast to the dark hue, a faded yellow shade smeared the right side of the canvas.
At the lower base of the painting, a lonely cedar tilted wayward beneath abstract shapes, and at the upper periphery, a miniature cedar wavered against a faded flag.
“I didn’t want to draw something realistic,” the artist Nadine Zahreddine said. “The situation in Lebanon can’t be read easily, so the abstractness of the painting mirrors that. It can’t be understood easily either.”
According to the painter, the artwork symbolizes the nature of the Army’s future victory.
“The Lebanese flag is wavering under destruction, but it has been lifted up and at the edge of the canvas the subtle burst of light symbolizes a forthcoming victory,” she said.
On another canvas, a handful of bright yellow wheat stalks jut upward, filling most of the canvas, as they rise from a central cedar tree painted at the base.
“I was inspired by the two wheat stalks in the Army’s logo," painter Maral Maniss said, pointing out that “wheat is the symbol of blessing, it is also a symbol of human nourishment and survival.”
According to Maniss, the artistic take on the Army logo turned wheat stalks in to a symbol representing the Lebanese people, with a central cedar holding them all together.
Artist Ahmad Abdallah’s painting depicted a soldier whose legs were fused into a bulky tree, pinned to the ground with one arm raised in salute and another cradling a representation of Lebanon’s shape.
“The soldier is fused to the ground, rooted down like a cedar, because he is a one of the cedars of Lebanon and he carries Lebanon because he is its protector," Abdallah said.
On Aug. 1, 1945, the Special Troops of the Levant, an armed unit under French Mandate control, was handed over to the government of Lebanon after it gained its independence.
The unit, which totaled 3,000 men, then became known as the Lebanese Army.
As such, Aug. 1 is commemorated annually as Lebanese Army Day.