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French Version


Sursock museum

Lebanon's move in fine arts have made a name for itself all over the world, and in the Arab region in particular.

Critics believe Lebanese artists absorbed the teachings of European art schools well but then adapted these to fit into their own environment.

This is not to mention the absorbing effects which artists were exposed to due to the political and social turbulence of the 15-year-old Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) and the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon.

Dr Mazen Asfour, a Jordanian critic, said Lebanese artists have shown an in-depth dialogue via their painting. “Lebanese artists are different from the rest of the Arab artists,” Asfour told The Star. “Arab artists used to study European art and duplicate them it in their own styles. The Lebanese, however, took the initiative in the early 20th century and learned the basics of European art schools in a comprehensive and thorough study.” The Lebanese style is on display at Darat Al Funun, via an exhibition titled the “Sursock Museum”.
The exhibition presents different art schools, and shows the influence of European art on Lebanese paintings. The venue also shows how far the Civil War in Lebanon affects the artistic development in the country. Traces and angles were all employed through their abundant imagination.

Since its official inauguration in 1961, the Sursock Museum has organized more than 84 exhibitions, representing the on-going development of art in Lebanon. It was named after its founder, Nicolas Ibrahim Sursock, who dedicated his mansion in Beirut’s Al Ashrafieh district to preserving the artistic process and giving artists the opportunity to develop their instinct.
The museum encourages modern Lebanese creations hand in hand with the national art treasures of the past. The displayed artworks in Amman depict the main features of the history of plastic art in Lebanon.

Each participating artist takes part with one or two paintings and murals, making spectators wonder in a gala of diversified tastes of mental dexterity. Many of the artists share the techniques of oil/water painting on canvas, while the rest decided to explore their skills in engraving woods and metal. Artists like Aref Al Rayess, Amin Al Basha, Salwa Shqair and Joseph Harab are but a few of those who obtained their art diplomas from French and Italian art academies.
Eyes can easily feel the heat, compassion and fear, that beam like radiation through the art of Nadia Siqily, Harrot Turussian and Vlavia Qudsi. Others like to spell out their fondness for love and peace in a different manner, they include Eli Kan’an and Hussein Madi.
Al Basha, on the other hand, has a composition of small wooden paintings attached together in one framework. Although his small wood pieces are unrelated, they represent his depiction of the everyday life of the Lebanese people. Al Basha is known among critics as “the artist who works on building his daily life into artwork”.
Having been a Fine Arts professor at the Lebanese University, Al Basha’s style remains very much in the mind of people and among his students. Asfour believes Al Basha has special characteristics. “Lebanese artists expose a superior manner and performed their art in symbolic paintings with many pictorial traces. They also have a lively expression of imagination, free from dogmatism. This is not to forget Lebanese artists were the leaders in fine art in the Arab world by the late 19th century,” Dr Asfour explained. But Halim Jurdaq’s transmutation of his thoughts about freedom are more explicit, when he painted four young women in the nude, presenting them in different angles. A pioneer in engraving art, Jurdag used this technique on wood with a combination of paints depicting sensational traces.
Murals present different art depiction’s. Munir Najem shows his fondness of Arabian nights by molding Oriental art with a western one. He also used oil paintings, mainly deep blue and lively green, in a colorful epicure.
Sethya Manokyan, meanwhile, is one of those influenced by the civil war in Lebanon. She painted a young woman wearing a deep blue and green dress with a scarf stuck on her nose swaying in the wind. Manokyan called the painting “Testimonies”, and is one of her famous works that illustrate the negative impacts of the civil war on the social life in Lebanon. The lady in Manokyan’s painting looks distressed as she still smells the ashes of war. Alphabetical drawings are also presented in the exhibition through unmistakable calligraphy.
Arabic, French and English words which read Sursock Museum were created by Lebanese artists in different periods, between the 19th and 20th century.

Marseille 22-07-2002
yann rotil
The Star



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