Artual Gallery: Where New York and Beirut unite in the name of still life art

The gallery features international emerging and established artists, showcasing their work in solo or collective exhibitions, some through collaborations with leading international galleries.
by Perla Kantarjian

3 September 2019 | 16:40

Source: by Annahar

  • by Perla Kantarjian
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 3 September 2019 | 16:40

This photo shows Melissa Brown's La Croix and Wave, 2019. (HO)

BEIRUT: Artual Gallery, a new member of the Beirut Central District cosmopolitan art galleries, builds a bridge between New York artists and Beiruti ones through its collective exhibition dedicated to breathing new life upon the ancient art genre of still life.

Still life is a centuries-old art genre in which artists paint arrangements of everyday, inanimate objects whether natural or manufactured, realistic or abstract.

The international contemporary art scene has embraced the fascinating legacy this ancient art genre has left, and Beirut Central District recently witnessed the diverse interpretations of still life by artists from New York at the opening of the art exhibition that runs until September 12.

Titled “Still Looking: A Still Life Show,” the exhibition has been curated by the Brooklyn-based painter Jonathan Chapline, along with contributions from seven other artists, namely: Jules de Balincourt, Melissa Brown, Amy Lincoln, Nikki Maloof, Cynthia Talmadge, Paul Wackers, and Robin F. Williams.

Within the artwork featured in the show, each artist explores the still life theme with their individualistic style, while acknowledging the genre’s rich history and impact on visual arts over the centuries.

At the opening of the exhibit that took place mid-August, Chapline commented on still life’s rich and diverse history that can be traced back to the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman periods, before reaching its pinnacle in the Dutch and Flemish Golden Age when it played a prime role in displaying ideas of luxury, trade and status.

“Later, in the 20th century, still life was used as a vehicle to highlight color, mark-making and space with the advent of cubism, abstraction, and surrealism,” Chapline said. “This show recontextualizes and gives new meaning to each work, charging the ideas and morphing the meaning behind them as the work travels from New York to Beirut,” he added.

Artual Gallery’s Founder, Hind Ahmad, also expressed her delight to be presenting a collective exhibition that is significant on so many levels.

“Still life has embarked on a fascinating journey over the centuries,” Ahmad told Annahar. “I’m delighted that Jonathan has chosen to shine the spotlight on this important art form, while giving these exciting and talented contemporary artists a well-deserved platform here at Artual,” she added.

After noticing that a large number of spaces in the region featured wholly or mostly MENA art, Ahmad felt that audiences would “benefit from a wider choice that included works they might not have been able to access in the past.”

She first launched the gallery two years ago on online platforms, with its catchy title “Artual” that combines both “art” and “virtual.”

“In March 2019, the natural step was to establish a permanent physical space, Ahmad stated, adding that “Artual Gallery was established with an aim of creating a cultural hub promoting an artistic exchange between Western and non-Western societies in Beirut,” and what better place to bring that dream to life than Downtown Beirut?

For Ahmad, the Beirut Central district is an ideal and truly inspirational setting. “There’s plenty of art already dotted around the public areas in downtown Beirut,” she said, “and I’m fortunate to have been able to establish my gallery in this electric area.”

As she told Annahar, the gallery features international emerging and established artists, showcasing their work in solo or collective exhibitions, some through collaborations with leading international galleries.

The Lebanese art scene is undoubtedly prolific, and its functions go beyond offering visual satisfaction. As Ahmad stated, “Everyone wonders about the world around us: the people, their lifestyles, their cultures, and their perspectives. Of course one can travel and discover more, but to truly see the world through a native’s eyes, art is key.”       

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