Category Archives: Art

Aishti by the Sea Featured On NY Times’ List of Coolest, Most Cultured New Malls

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The New York Times published a list on the World’s coolest, Most Cultured New Malls and featured the new Aishti contemporary museum that opened back in October 2015. I’ve been to that new complex a couple of times and it’s truly amazing inside. The 35,000 square-meter complex includes one of the largest contemporary art museums in the region and was designed by Adjaye Associates.

Here’s what NY Times said about Aishti by the sea:

It was on the heels of the Lebanese Civil War that Tony Salamé launched Aishti, introducing luxury brands like Prada and Dior to his beleaguered Beirut. Now, 26 years and as many department stores later, he is also bringing in big-name contemporary art. Last October, he opened Aishti by the Sea, a roughly 430,000-square-foot mall housing a large museum space on the waterfront. With the New York gallerist Jeffrey Deitch as an adviser, the location’s first two exhibitions have featured works from Salamé’s 2,000-strong personal collection. (American conceptual artists from Allen Ruppersberg to Rashid Johnson are on display until April 23, 2017.) And the site, designed by the British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye, is something of an artwork itself: Situated under a mashrabiya-style, red-steel “skin” inspired by the terra-cotta roofs of circa-1920 Beirut, its two conjoined entities “communicate through passages and windows, just like cuts in a Fontana painting,” Salamé says. Merging commerce and culture as such may be as controversial as it is cutting-edge, but, he explains, “The art is not there to push sales; it adds value to a mundane shopping experience.” Likewise, he just unveiled a Harrods Urban Retreat spa, an open-air pool bar and an outpost of Beirut’s beloved Music Hall on the roof. And with forthcoming pop-ups from lesser-known Lebanese designers, the shopping should get more interesting, too.

And here are some pictures I took of the complex:

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Texas A&M University To Honor Lebanese Jean-Claude Kalache, DOP at Pixar Studios

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JCK1 Photo Credits: [VentureBeat]

Jean-Claude Kalache traveled to the US in 1990 to continue his studies and earned a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree in 1993 and a Master of Science in Visualization degree in 1997. Kalache got offered a job at the Academy Award-winning film studio Pixar and has been working as the director of photography ever since.

He was part of the team that produced Oscar winning movies such as Geri’s Game AK, “Toy Story 2”, “Monsters Inc”, “Cars”, “UP” which earned an Oscar in 2010 for Best Animated Feature and earned a Best Picture nomination, and he’s currently working on “Toy Story 4,” scheduled for a 2018 release. Kalache was nominated for a top achiever award and will be honored this year by the Texas A&M College of Architecture as an outstanding alumni.

This honor is the highest honor bestowed by the college to former students.

JCK I first wrote about Kalache back in 2012.

“He leads teams of artists and technicians who execute a film’s director’s vision,” said Tim McLaughlin, head of the Department of Visualization, in a nomination letter. “It’s both an artistic and technical task. He acts as a painter by depicting mood and character through the use of color and intensity, and as a technician by directing his crew through the language and tools of computer graphics.”

Thank you Patricia!

A Bullet Resistant Kefiyyeh (Head Scarf) by Beirut-Based Architect Salim al-Kadi

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A Beirut-based architect has created a bullet resistant Kefiyyeh made out of “para-aramid synthetic fibre – otherwise known as Kevlar – which is used in body armor like bulletproof vests to help guard the wearer against ballistics and other weapons”. Al-Kadi’s scarf, the K29 Keffiyeh 001, was hand-embroidered by a woman living in Ain al-Hilweh and made its debut during Beirut Design Week.

I am not the expert here but if you get hit by a bullet, the scarf is not that thick to absorb the shock even if it’s bullet resistant so it might still kill you. In all cases, my guess is Kadi did it just for the fun of it and is not planning any production soon. It’s a pretty nice idea though and a fine execution.

PS: Let’s just hope terrorists won’t get inspired from that.

You can read more about it [here].

The Story of Beirut: A Spectacular Start To The Beirut Cultural Festival

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The Story of Beirut was the centerpiece of the May 17-22 Beirut Cultural Festival and the best possible way to kick off the first edition of these festivals. Using Nejmeh Square’s iconic clock tower as its focal point, the show took us back to the Phoenicians, then the Roman Empire, the Ottoman rule, the French mandate, our independence in 1943, Beirut’s glorious years in the 1960s, the unfortunate civil war and the reconstruction that followed, a moment of silence in 2005 and then a dazzling light show transported us to the 2016 all accompanied with beautiful musical compositions and mixes by Guy Manoukian.

CNN wrote a lengthy article today on The Story of Beirut. I will leave you with these pictures and a small video that I compiled from various parts of the show.

Thumbs up to everyone who made this possible and to the show’s art director Daniel Georr.

Tonight is your last chance to catch the show. You can look for tickets [here].

[YouTube]

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Beirut Cultural Festivals Kick off Tonight With A Massive Visual & Musical Tribute to Beirut

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The Beirut Cultural Festivals will be held for the first time this year from May 17th till May 22nd at Beirut’s waterfront area. The festival will kick off tonight with a tribute to Beirut itself, through a one of a kind visual and musical production entitled “The Story of Beirut” that “will recount in a distinctive and artistic way the story of our capital since the time of the Phoenicians and highlighting the long and glorious history of Beirut and its importance”. The show will feature an impressive 3D mapping production and an orchestra formed of over 70 musicians performing musical compositions prepared by Guy Manoukian.

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The “Story of Beirut” will be shown for the first 3 days, followed by a series of cultural, artistic, sports and entertainment activities that will be concluded on May 22nd with an the Red Bull F1 showrun, the first of its kind in Beirut!

I will be there tonight and at the F1 showrun on Sunday. If you want further information, check out the [Beirut Cultural Festival] website.

When Eden Park Asks You To Redesign Their Famous Bow tie

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Eden Park were celebrating yesterday their 15th anniversary in Lebanon, and I was asked along with 8 of the country’s top artists, designers and bloggers to redesign Eden Park’s famous Pink Bow Tie, the brand’s logo and monogram.

I was hesitant at first given that I barely have any design skills, but I love Eden Park and a good friend of mine offered to help out. What I wanted to do was portray the blog or what BlogBaladi stands for through the bow tie. We thought of coming up with an animation first where a series of negative events are shown in the background and the bow tie would reflect the positive side of each, but then we decided to go for a hologram as it’s easier to execute and would look cooler. Of course it was challenging technically but I had the most awesome people helping me out. In fact I felt bad at some point because they were working harder than me to finish it so special thanks to Jimmy, Georges and Christina!

[YouTube]

We ended up designing the hologram to show the Lebanese flag from one side and the blog’s banner. An iPad was placed inside the designated box and a dark plexi was used for the reflection. The hologram was perfect but there was too much light at the event so we had to move the box 2-3 times to let people see the hologram properly.

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Luckily, things worked out perfectly fine and everyone loved the bow tie! If you are passing by ABC Achrafieh in the next couple of weeks, make sure to drop by Eden Park and check it out.

Many thanks to Eden Park and Kinda for this opportunity!

Here are some of the other designs on display:

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rita Rita Lamah Hankach

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vanlian Vick Vanlian

The Virtual National Museum of Modern Art: The First of Its Kind In Lebanon

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The Ministry of Culture officially launched on Wednesday the Virtual National Museum of Modern Art in Lebanon. This is the first museum of its kind in Lebanon and will feature over 800 artworks including paintings and sculptures from different Lebanese artists.

I was invited to Rome for a couple of days to attend the opening of the Lebanese museum of modern arts last week but it turned out to be a cool stunt by the Ministry to introduce the virtual museum and I got the chance to meet the Minister who explained everything related to that museum, and the gigantic effort that it took to bring this large collection online.

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The virtual museum aims at digitizing the large collection that the Ministry of Culture has, as well as introducing Lebanese here and abroad, and of course art enthusiasts from around the world, to our local talents. You can explore it on [artmodernemv.gov.lb] and there’s an app also available for iOS (iPhone, iPad) & Android users.

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The website is available in four languages (English, Arabic, Spanish & French) and once you click to experience the virtual museum, you will be prompted to enter 4 different “rooms” organized periodically where you will be able to explore the artwork of various Lebanese painters and sculptors. There’s also a section called “Exhibitions” that will showcase artwork by a prominent Lebanese artist every 2-3 months. The first exhibition on display online is for painter Georges Daoud el Korom.

Technically speaking, the website is user-friendly and quite fast. I also tried the Android app and it works perfectly fine. There are few bugs and issues with the website though that I communicated with the concerned people.

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All in all, I loved the initiative as it aims to promote Lebanese modern art to locals and the whole world and will help maintain Lebanon’s arts heritage by digitizing it. Let’s just hope that one day, the Ministry will have enough money to establish a real museum and showcase the 2000+ artistic pieces in its possession.

Here’s a short video to help you experience the virtual museum. (Thank you Wajid from Uf concepts for the editing and the help!)

[YouTube]

PS: If you happen to have an Oculus VR machine, you can enjoy viewing the museum in VR mode.

Note: This post will be sponsored on BlogBaladi’s Facebook page by the Ministry of Culture with my consent of course.

The Beirut Rose House Collective

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Two years ago, the famous 19th century Beirut mansion Rose House (La Maison Rose) was open to the public as British Artist Tom Young showcased his work and hosted a series of events at “La Maison Rose” from November 2014 till January 2015. Back then, “the resident of the house, Fayza El Khazen, offered Young studio space in the mansion over the summer. Her family had lived there for 50 years. Young discovered that she was leaving her home in the coming months. There was a sense of urgency to capture the last days of the house in its present state”.

The video below shows how this much loved cultural landmark was host to a series of artistic interventions and how these artists engaged with the iconic ‘Rose House’ in Ras Beirut. As mentioned by Tom Young, this collective is part of a larger cultural effort to preserve the heritage sites of Lebanon, which is much-needed these days.

[YouTube]

ASHEKMAN’s New #ZiadRahbani Calligraffiti in Beirut

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ASHEKMAN put the final touches yesterday to their latest #‎calligraffiti portraying Ziad Rahbani with his famous quote “Bennesbeh Labokra Chou?”, or in English “What about tomorrow?”. The graffiti is strategically located at the center of a previous war zone a.k.a خط تماس at the Basta/Bechara el Khoury/Sodeco intersection.

I love the quote, the location and of course the artwork. It’s another masterpiece by ASHEKMAN. Thank you for covering and replacing ugly political slogans with beautiful graffiti murals!

Here are a couple of exclusive shots from ASHEKMAN and Jad Ghorayeb.

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A New Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art Due To Open in Beirut by 2020

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muu The site of the future museum – Picture by Roger Moukarzel

Back when I wrote about the new Aishti contemporary museum opening soon, I mentioned that there were talks about building a huge museum of Modern and contemporary Lebanese art in central Beirut by 2020 and that Tony Salamé, Zaha Hadid (who unfortunately died recently), Hans Ulrich Obrist and Julia Peyton-Jones of London’s Serpentine Galleries were involved.

It appears that the project has moved a step closer to becoming a reality with the announcement of the shortlisted architects for the project:

109 Architectes s.a.r.l.
Bernard Khoury / DW5
Hashim Sarkis Studios, LLC
HW architecture
ibda design
IDC / Verner Johnson / ETEC SA
L.E.FT Architects
Lina Ghotmeh / DGT Architects
Najjar Najjar Architect
Raëd Abillama Architects / Nadim Khattar
WORK Architecture Company (WORKac)
Yatsu Chahal Architects (YCa) / Said Jazari Consulting Office (SJCO)
Youssef Tohme Architects and Associates (YTAA)

The winner will be announced this autumn and the 2,780 square meter museum is due to open by 2020. As far as the location is concerned, it will be close to the National Museum as shown in the picture above and “representatives from the Association for the Promotion and Exhibition of the Arts in Lebanon (Apeal), the non-profit organisation behind the museum, have already signed a long-term lease agreement with the Université Saint Joseph for the site”. The museum will be funded through a private fundraising campaign.

Needless to say, I’m glad we’re getting a new museum but if the parking lot is being transformed into a museum, and knowing the area, no one would be able to visit it or the National Museum because there’s no place to park anywhere near. I hope they’re considering underground parking or other alternatives.

For those interested, you can follow the progress on [A museum in the making] website.

Thank you Sana!