The Art of Viewing: Beirut Art Fair 2016

The Art of Viewing: Beirut Art Fair 2016


The seventh edition of the Beirut Art Fair (BAF) opened its doors to the public for three days in September, presenting over forty galleries from the MENASA region and beyond, as well as other attractions. Over 23,000 visitors came to BIEL to experience the artworks on display.

Diverging from last year’s art fair which featured an almost dizzying mixture of art and design, BAF 2016 focused exclusively on fine art featuring both gallery stalls and curated sections. Visitors were invited to discover new talents in an area entitled ‘Revealing’, where gallerists presented one emerging artist on a single panel, allowing for artistic confluence and a dialogue between walls. Here a visitor might connect Ossama Baalbaki’s desolate seaside highway, Morteza Khosravi’s hypnotic take on the facade of a Beirut building, or the anti-genesis of Hassan Samad’s starry night amidst burning trash, among many other works that reflected on the outside world and everyday experiences.

To further the dialogue between artworks past and present, the midsection of the fair was devoted to Lebanese female painters from the Modernist tradition, curated by Pascal Odille, the artistic director of BAF. The works of renowned artists such as Etel Adnan, Huguette Caland and Helen Khal rubbed shoulders with artists between 1945 and 1975, creating a museum-like experience within the BIEL exhibition space.

“Beirut is alive and kicking, thata balance exists between being regional and globally connected.”

For visitors looking for a break from the artistic overload, other attractions included MACAM’s ‘Recto Verso’ library, where one could peruse art books, or the Selections Lounge featuring seasonal cocktails and bites, which were all welcome additions to this year’s BAF, as well as a large scale installation.

As the artistic director of Artspace Hamra, a participating gallery, I spent a marathon three days at the fair; I ate, drank, socialized and most importantly formed important aesthetic experiences that help me confront, celebrate, escape and create reality around me.

By strengthening and challenging the very fabric of how we see, art draws attention not just to what is being viewed but to the act of looking itself.

Art fairs connect countless visitors, artists, exhibitors and patrons, the right combination of which creates a healthy ecosystem for the arts and establishes the host city as a cultural hotspot. This year’s BAF showed that the art scene in Beirut is alive and kicking, thata balance exists between being regional and globally connected, and that there is a vibrant local audience eager to practice the most important art of all, which is the art of seeing.

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TAGS23000 visitors academicians advertorials aesthetic agendas ambassadors art books art collectors art exhibitions artisan know-how Artistic confluence artistic overload artists Artspace Hamra artworks BAF Beirut Beirut Art Fair believers Biel bites Bright Lebanon Byblos chefs choirs Chouf cinema cinematographers citizen journalism communication conceptual magazine concerts connecting contributing writers corporate social responsibility cultural attaches cultural trends curated sections dancers dancing directory door to door dreamers ecosystem of arts editorials embracing platform empower escape reality Etel Adnan Events exhibition exhibitors Expat in Lebanon exploration festivals films gallerists gallery stalls gifted giving back global global community global Lebanon guest writers Hassan Samad heartwarming stories Helen Khal HOME HOME around the world HOME Magazine HOME nation Honorary advisors hope hope of tomorrow Huguette Caland influence inforgrahics initiatives inspirational integration international distribution interviews journey Lebanese bloggers Lebanese culture Lebanese Diaspora Lebanese female painters Lebanese film makers Lebanese heritage Lebanese hidden talents Lebanese market Lebanese of the world Lebanese painters Lebanese poets Lebanese print magazine Lebanese social impact Lebanon lifestyle love for home country MACAM masterpieces MENASA MENASA region ministers Modernist tradition Morteza Khoswavi multiplatform museum museums North Lebanon online engagement Ossama Baalbaki out of the box outreach Pascale Odille patrons peace peace building philosophy photographers PiDRAYA pioneers poetry positive change positive content positivity producers publishing sector reader corner Recto Verso reference content references refined magazine regional remarkable achievers remarkable organizations revolutionary content seasonal coktails Seventh edition social magazine soul of Lebanon South Lebanon stakeholders style success stories talents tales of today testimonials theatre thoughts timeless trendsetter Tyre unites visitors where Lebanon comes together