Out of Context is an exhibition that seeks to reassert the primacy of the artwork within the constellation of elements in and around an exhibition. It does so by creating the viewing conditions to contemplate artworks individually, and not within the context of an (imposed) overarching narrative or theme. It therefore invites the viewer to engage in an activity which has been under increasing duress - to look, seriously and quietly, and see. The viewer is called upon to slow down, apprehend the formal qualities of an artwork, and open up to a potentially revelatory encounter. This practice is derived from what the German Neo-Kantian aesthetes, such as Heinrich Wölfflin called sehen lernen (learning to see), and it is one which distinguishes itself from mere connoisseurship on the one hand, and metaphysics on the other.
This exhibition reconsiders the tradition of seeing as central to the knowledge assimilated from artistic judgements. However, as John Berger’s famous book Ways of Seeing has revealed, these judgements are not “pure;” to engage with an ideology critique of visual material also entails seeing. Starting from such a practice of observation, the viewer may come to read an artwork, and this encounter may yield new narratives.
3 May - 22 June, 2019
Hassaan el Samad, a former hunter, has produced a large installation of small-scale still life paintings of dead birds. Taking the figure of the hunted bird as his starting point, he presents a taxonomical survey of the richness and multiplicity of bird species in Lebanon which have been increasingly decimated under lenient hunting laws. This work extends the themes of el Samad’s first solo exhibition which was presented at the onset of the garbage crisis and focused on waste management as it manifested in everyday life.
Hassaan el Samad was born in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War. He graduated from the Institute of Fine Arts-Raoucheh, where he studied with artists such as Abdelhamid Baalbaki, Mohammad El Rawas, Ali Shams, among others. He has had solo exhibitions in Lebanese recently at Art Space Hamra (2016), and at Safadi Cultural Center in Tripoli (2015). He has participated in group exhibitions at Beirut Art Fair (2016), Art Space Hamra (2015), and Mark Hachem Gallery (2014). He is currently the chair of the department of Fine Arts at the Lebanese University’s third branch, and a member of the Art Collections Committee of the Ministry of Culture.
Memorial to Wildlife
21 June – 25 July, 2019
13 June - 20 July, 2019
In this solo exhibition, Oussama Baalbaki presents a recent body of watercolors which extends the theme, pervading his entire practice, of the transformation of urban and rural landscapes in Lebanon. Influenced by the modern flaneur, Baalbaki paints what he sees as he moves around the city of Beirut and its peripheries. He wistfully frames the tension between the old and the new, and between nature and culture, wherein the latter is itself naturalized as part of the landscape. Baalbaki’s watercolors are distinctive in making explicit this tension. With his broad and swift brushstrokes, and bold but diluted colors, he arrests the effervescence and movement of history in a single moment.