What better challenge than to organize, as a response to the social and economic slump in our country, an exhibition, called “Faces and landscapes”, which highlights the beauty of Lebanese artistic production and the strength of history who supports it?
The Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) took up this challenge with flying colours, by organizing within the Archaeological Museum of its main campus, the exhibition of an unpublished collection of paintings and canvases by Lebanese painters from the late of the XIXe century to the first decades of the XXe. The collection in question is that of Émile Hannouche. USEK has owned it since 2019 and has decided to make it visible, known and admired to any public wishing to free themselves, through aesthetics and culture, from the difficulties and obstacles of everyday life, remembering the force of transcendence of artistic production.
It is in the wake of a research project carried out by the students of the School of Architecture and Design of USEK, under the aegis of Dr. Elsie Deek Abou Jaoudé, and within the framework of the course devoted to history of contemporary art that the setting up of this event took place. The visitor strolls through the meanders of the museum where the paintings are flattered by a delicate, caressing light and embraced by music alternating tabab Egyptian, Ottoman song and Western music, all three influencing the era of that time. The gaze discovers, in this atmosphere of pure synesthesia, the beginnings of modern art in Lebanon and its deployment over the years. There he met the Lebanese painters who had the courage to give a completely different kick-off to painting, by emancipating it from the only classical religious character (icons and portraits of prelates), to make it travel to countries of realist, impressionist and fauvist inspirations.
These canvases were obviously born under the Ottoman Empire, but an Empire which, to better seduce its European neighbors, is working to westernize itself. This could only have strongly influenced all of the occupied territories and, consequently, the artistic production of the time. This one knows, in fact, a real movement of rupture by freeing itself from the classical tradition of the portrait to throw itself into the themes of diversified landscapes and academic nudes. A high-flying exercise. Literally an act of recklessness.
These pioneers of the modernism of art in Lebanon, who for the most part studied in Rome and France, are not few in number: the visitor has the chance, during his stroll, to make acquaintance with Daoud Corm, Habib Srour, Georges Sabbagh, Georges Corm, César Gémayel, Moustafa Farroukh, Omar Ounsi, Marie Haddad and Saadi Sinevi. The Lebanese visitor, in this case, has the distinct feeling of finally inhaling a great breath of oxygen purified from the miasma of the situation that has prevailed on the Lebanese scene for more than three years, letting himself be transported by the vigorous arms of modern Art.
This exhibition is therefore proof that museology can only marry museography and scenography in a beautiful evocative marriage of creativity and intelligence, that an exhibition can only speak to visitors if it is expography and narratology. It is also the proof that despite the fact that the world today is in bad shape almost in its entirety, art remains unassailable, incorruptible. It is, finally, the proof that we can, that we must teach differently in our universities if we want to build the Lebanese citizen of the future, the same one who will be able to become radiant and confident again, between others, through the strength of culture and the impact of beauty.
Come in large numbers to this exhibition of the Archaeological Museum of USEK, which is held throughout the month of November, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, remembering that one of the most beautiful trips to be made is always a crossing.
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