Three generations, three intersecting disciplines exploring the theme of pain, investing the Barakat building Beit Beirut, a strong symbol of resistance, war and memory. In this vital and destroyed space, which has recently benefited from a suspension, thus escaping the penalty of destruction, Shifting Lights sets in, letting us perceive with force the world of the artist Afaf Zurayk.
She exposes her pain.
The pain she constantly expresses on her paintings. Pain, suffering and chaos engendered by the world. Beside her, a photographer and an architect. 3 people from 3 different generations, born on 1948, 1976, and 1991 coming together from very professional backgrounds to express a message of change!
With nuanced shifting of light and space, both physical and emotive, the three Lebanese artists; Afaf Zurayk painter, Noel Nasr photographer and Rami Saab architect contemplative discourse comes to life through nine structures that layer presence and memory, oscillating between reality and aspiration.
The exhibition comprises cylindrical structures, each with a painting on the inside, enveloped by a photograph on the outside. Moving through darkness to light and experiencing an intimate conversation between painting, photograph, structure and surrounding space.
Through their collaborative installation of shifting light and space, the artists engage in a quest for peace that emanates from within Beit Beirut, once an epicenter of destruction. Noel took the technical layering of the paintings whether oil, charcoal or graphite and made detailed photographs of them and Rami enlarged them and with Afaf’s mark that she used all the time evolved spatially enveloping the paintings. The architecture made Afaf’s pain accessible to everybody in an intimate conversation with the portrait.
AFAF ZURAYK – THE PAINTER
An organic fusion between very good vibes. I started this paintings because I was very pained as all the violence that I was seeing in the world and I’ve seen a lot of violence and revolutions and the only way I could express that pain was to pick up the brush and start painting what I was feeling. Our collaboration is an example that we could collaborate as people, as artists, from different generations that choose to accept and allow the other person to extend, explore, reduce or enlarge.
The pain is always present and Beit Beirut was the ideal place to showcase it; it was the backdrop, it’s the museum of memory and these paintings are just telling us that we have a choice.
NOEL NASR – THE PHOTOGRAPHERLooking from a painting through a painting creating a layering of three disciplines resulting a symbolism in the overall approach. We believe it’s the product of the human being and we are observing it. It’s all about decoding Afaf’s visual syntax.
Afaf’s portrait can be looked at in many different perception and specially in the Beit Beirut context; it can be looked at an aggressor or the one being aggressed it depends on how you see it. The 3 generations believe that there’s a room for change and improvement in a human perspective. So the phenomena is looking at a painting but before facing it directly in that room you’re looking at a photograph from the outside that is lighting the drawing as a human being and not a painting.
RAMI SAAB – THE ARCHITECTThe challenge in architecture was how to gather the portrait and the image to accommodate it with the space. We went back to the basics which is Afaf’s stroke that has been trained for the last 40 years. We decided to evolve the stroke by creating lights filled pods that allow us to overlay image / portrait / architecture in a way of creating these individual moments of confrontation with the canvas of questioning and sort of a collective catharsis from the outside because it allows you a window between the intimate relation of everyone and the canvas.
The music chosen was the one Afaf was listening to while painting and its all love songs that healed her pain. In front of all this anguish and pain you had an oasis of peace and a decision of choosing the type of reality and community you want to be part of.
A coming together of 3 artists and a coming together of everyone to choose peace, to choose to enter the pod… it’s all a matter of choices.
Photos: Hoda Kerbage