Gone are the days of the Renaissance, when political dynasties like the Medici family, prominent bankers in Florence, provided artists with food, shelter, clothing, art supplies and anything else they needed, freeing them to focus on their creative work.
But Café Najjar is carving a modern path to art patronage. Its new two- pronged strategy aims to help Lebanese arts flourish. On the one hand, it brings the work of an established master to people in all walks of life; and on the
other, it promotes promising young talents as they pursue their artistic journeys. And along the way, it ties in fundraising for an important social cause.
The master is none other than Hussein Madi, arguably the most widely known, gifted artist of the Arab region, known as the “Picasso of the Middle East.” The rising talent is George Maktabi, a Beirut artist working in advertising. By embracing both, Café Najjar brings art to the people and people to the artists.
Pairing the masters
Hussein Madi, 80, is a painter, sculptor and printmaker whose art has been exhibited at the British Museum,
the Venice Biennale and Tokyo’s Ueno Museum. His “unique body of work and joyful experiments in color represent so much of what we love about Lebanese culture – its inventiveness, its boldness, its drive for distinction and its appreciation for taste,” said a Café Najjar spokesperson.
“As an artist and sculptor, Madi dares to be different, blending the principles of divine harmony with the modern styles of Matisse and Picasso to arrive at masterpieces that are completely his own. He is a preserver and an innovator and a true artist worth celebrating.”
Like Madi, Cafe Najjar is the undisputed leader in the field, with a majority share of the national coffee market. It has also become a leading exporter, carrying the authentic taste of HOME to 48 countries, consoling those with nostalgia and bridging the distance between Lebanon and the rest of the world.
The collaboration between them materialized as a gift set with two limited edition coffee cups, featuring
two of Madi’s paintings. Both exhibit Madi’s unique color combinations and abstract forms.
Marrying art to social responsibility
George Maktabi’s detailed illustrations, black and white, sometimes with a splash of red or a hint of color, capture a complete story in a glance. One can hardly be insensitive to his message, whimsical in style but with a depth of meaning that reaches the heart.
He works professionally in advertising, but it’s in his doodles where he finds his most important stories, primarily inspired by Beirut.
Najjar Raqwa, Najjar’s Lebanese coffee maker brand, is collaborating with Maktabi to promote hope, marrying his meaningful art to a social cause.
Maktabi’s sketch of a little girl embracing a heart, with the city of Beirut in the background, was printed on one – and only one – Najjar Raqwa coffee maker.
The unique item was auctioned at the Heartbeat Gala dinner to raise money for babies in Lebanon born with heart disease, enabling them to have access to treatment.
This is the beginning of a journey Najjar pledges to continue — promoting young artists and marrying their art to social causes for the good of Lebanon.