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Beirut White Wall Graffiti & Street Art

September 6.12 - November 3.12
Opening reception: Wednesday September 5, from 6 pm to 9 pm

About the exhibition

WHITE WALL, organized at Beirut Art Center in association with Fondation Saradar and a team of three curators, is an exhibition in which one of the main objectives is to give new impetus to the Lebanese graffiti scene. Fifteen international artists, from Europe, North America, South America, together with artists from Egypt and Tunisia, with diverse visions and street art practices will share their passion and expertise with Lebanese artists invited to perform with them. Beirut Art Center will host an exhibition, while the show will also spread over the streets of Beirut, creating a dynamic interaction between the exhibition’s venue and the city.

Since the Civil War, public space in Lebanon had been occupied by inscriptions and stencils related to war and sectarian politics. Graffiti, as known in the United States and Europe, appeared infrequently from the mid-1990s. It was not until 2005-6 that a new scene emerged, a scene that is now burgeoning. The streets of Beirut have witnessed the birth of new artists mixing caustic stencils, western-style graffiti and Arabic graffiti. These interventions contrasted with public expectations, since they promoted unity over division and maintained a humorous and often critical look at Lebanese society.

One of the key issues raised by this event is to understand how it is possible to bring an inherently outdoor and accessible art to an indoor space like Beirut Art Center, without betraying the idiosyncrasy of this art. The title, WHITE WALL, confronts the white walls of the galleries with the streets of the city, a challenging prospect for a street artist.

A roundtable at Beirut Art Center organized by Fondation Saradar will focus on the phenomenon of Lebanese graffiti and its evolution from a message of war to a contemporary artistic expression.

The proposed project aims to create a vibrant interaction between graffiti, the city of Beirut and the Beirut Art Center. Therefore the project is divided over different venues. Beirut Art Center will host the exhibition for a period of two months. And at Beirut Art Center, Fondation Saradar will host a round table. The rest of the exhibition will be spread over the walls of the city. The locations of the outdoor interventions will be indicated on a map that visitors can pick up at the main venues and find updates online.

This project is carried by four different energies: Charles Vallaud aka Prime, Siska, Don R. Karl aka Stone and Tania Helou (Fondation Saradar).

Biography

ORGANIZERS:

PRIME
Charles Vallaud aka Prime (France) has been in love with graffiti since his early childhood. Prime left Toulouse for Beirut in February 2005 on a journey that was supposed to last a few months; it lasted until July 2007. This is when he met Siska and became part of the re-awakening of the Lebanese graffiti scene and its present boom. A graphic designer and graffiti artist, he seeks other ways to express the essence of graffiti.

SISKA
Siska (Lebanon) was a member of the famous hip-hop crew ‘Kitaa Beyroute’. He is a filmmaker and visual artist who pays special attention to the street art movement. He was the first to make, with his friend Prime, a graffito in Arabic in Beirut during the war of summer 2006 when they wrote bayrūt mā bitmūt (Beirut never dies). Siska will show a new work in the exhibition.

STONE
Don Karl aka Stone (Germany) is a cultural activist, graffiti writer and art book publisher. He started to write graffiti in1983 and published his first book on train writing in 1986. Many books and articles have followed since. He has participated in and curated various international urban art exhibitions and projects, such as Cubabrasil (cubabrasil.net) or Arabic Graffiti. Don Karl runs the publishing house ‘From Here To Fame’ and the ‘Common Ground Gallery’ in Berlin.

TANIA HELOU
Tania Helou (Lebanon) is Fondation Saradar General Manager since 2001. She has dedicated her Master’s degree thesis (Saint-Joseph University, Beirut) to a socio-political analysis of the graffiti of the Lebanese war (1975-1982) and has constituted a large collection of Lebanese graffiti since 1975.



ARTISTS:

AMMAR ABO BAKR
Ammar Abo Bakr (Luxor, Egypt) is one of the most active street artists in Egypt today. Many of his iconic pieces have become famous far beyond Egypt. His political art comments on the daily struggles of the revolution. Abo Bakr teaches at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Luxor.
http://www.facebook.com/ammar.bakr

AYA TAREK
Aya Tarek (Alexandria, Egypt) is seen by many as the first serious street artist in Egypt. Long before the revolution her work could be seen in her hometown Alexandria. Exceptionally talented, she is also one of the youngest artists in today's Egyptian scene.
http://www.flickr.com/people/aya_tarek

BENOIT DEBBANE
Benoit Debbane is a Lebanese painter born in 1974. He studied architecture at ALBA (Academie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts, Beirut, Lebanon) and currently works in Beirut as a freelance illustrator. Debbane started off as a graffiti artist back in the 1990s on the walls of Beirut and keeps on practicing street art to this day. Iconic representations of characters such as Bruce lee, Grendizer and even "Pichu", the artist's cat, are recurrent characters in the artist's work and always on his mind.

BLU
Blu (Italy) is a visual artist and muralist from Bologna. He first attracted international attention at the beginning of the millennium, when he started to paint large-scale murals in his characteristic figurative style. After his incredible ‘Muto Wall’ animation reached more than ten million views on YouTube, Blu became a figurehead of contemporary urban art. He has painted murals and exhibited all over the world.
http://blublu.org/

BTOY
Btoy (Spain) lives in Barcelona and is interested in the irregular surfaces of a "mur trouvé", to which she adds ads and the remains of pollution. Walls, which are sought and found not quite at random, become the ideal medium to disseminate her work, which is characterized by intertextuality: nostalgic portraits are swayed by forceful brushstrokes of color, contrasting with their sources in black and white photographs. She has exhibited at galleries in Barcelona, London Paris and Los Angeles; and she has participated in many live shows such as "The Cans Festival", London.
www.btoy.es

EL SEED
El Seed (Tunisia/France/Canada) is a Tunisian artist, born in France and now living in Canada. His distinguished fusion of Arabic Calligraphy and Graffiti has made him an important influence for graffiti artists throughout the Arab world. He is well sought-after for countless projects and exhibitions in places like Montreal, Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin, Tunis, Qatar, Dubai and Sharjah.
www.elseed-art.com

GRAFFITIMUSEUM
Graffitimuseum (Germany) was created in 2001 by Nick Ivique, Jo Irrläufer and Aljoscha Igrich. Graffitimuseum works on the paradox of an institutional Graffiti Museum without perverting the essence of this movement. This group organizes walks in which they ‘read’ the city through graffiti, which are considered to be symbols that enable the deciphering of urban space. The Graffitimuseum collaborates in its projects with art historians, linguists and scriptwriters.
http://www.graffitimuseum.de

INTI
Inti (Chile) is a Chilean urban artist whose influences stem from Latin American socialist murals and graffiti art. In his work he cites and exploits iconographic elements, color and designs from pre-Columbian traditions, which he combines with the graphic aesthetics of graffiti.
http://www.facebook.com/INTI.INTI.INTI
www.inticastro.com

L'ATLAS
L'Atlas (France) is a French artist born in 1978. He started to write graffiti in the 1990s. Fascinated with the line and the craft of writing, he went to study traditional Arabic calligraphy in Morocco, Egypt and Syria. He takes special interest in the Kufic script, the geometric shapes of which he transposes and encodes into the Latin alphabet, creating a unique typography. Without ceasing his interventions in the street, he is developing a pictorial universe in which each letter is considered as a shape, and each shape as a letter. Little by little, to him the city itself has appeared loaded with signs which he collects with a special printing technique in an almost abstract trail. He lives and works in Belleville, Paris.
http://latlas.net

OBETRE
Obetre (Belgium) discovered graffiti in the mid-1990s. Always aiming to maintain an innovative approach, Obetre promotes the appropriation of public space through his work. A keen traveller,
he has left significant marks on the cities where he has lived such as Brussels, Toulouse, Montreal, Tokyo and Montevideo.
obetre.net / www.flickr.com/photos/obetre

MARK JENKINS
Mark Jenkins (USA) is an internationally acclaimed American artist known for the mixed-media sculptures and street installations he places throughout urban and environmental settings, sometimes with, but often without, permission. Jenkins’ process involves dry-casting everything from fire hydrants and toy ducks to baby dolls and people, often himself or his assistants, with box sealing tape, the latter often dressed to appear scarily lifelike. 
Jenkins’ works have been observed lounging atop billboards, slumped over on cafeteria tables, panhandling in the streets, emanating from street poles, drowning in bodies of water, clinging to statues, overturning street signs and more in locations such as Belgrade, Vienna, Washington D.C., London, Barcelona, New York, Moscow and Seoul.

PAROLE
Parole (Belgium) is an artist from Brussels who works on the distortion of signs, phonetics and words. He also elevates his graffiti tags to the level of imaginative and poetic writing, somewhere between calligraphy and logograms. His work can also be deciphered as a kind of visual music that possesses its own rhythm, symmetries and silences. Parole emerges spontaneously from the blank sheet of paper to produce unpredictable emotions and the clashing of letters to generate novelty.
http://www.parole.name

RESO
Reso (France), a true purist of matter, has practiced graffiti in Toulouse for nearly twenty years, the city where he is particularly famous. With a high level of precision, he draws "Wild Style", but also characters or realistic scenes. Thanks to graffiti he has discovered many countries, other cultures and especially other painting techniques. His participation in numerous festivals in Europe (Spain, Germany, Belgium, etc.) and his recurrent appearances in numerous publications make Reso a recognized artist not only in the graffiti world but also in contemporary art. Like other artists of his generation, Reso now alternates between the wall and the canvas.

TANC
Tanc (France) came to his art as a result of daily practice of graffiti. His strength comes from discovering how to make his name vanish so as to uncover an original pictorial, abstract language. The isolation of the calligraphic stroke applied to the canvas gives birth to a multicolored abstract painting lying somewhere between action painting, graffiti and pop art. Tanc composes his paintings like electronic music: by layering. These paintings, which at first sight appear direct and minimalistic, are in fact the result of prolonged inquiry into color and optical illusion.
http://www.tanc.fr

ZEPHA
Zepha (France), is a real cosmopolitan artist. His work is the result of the crossbreeding of several cultures. It was in 1989 that Vincent Abadie Hafez started to impose his and his crew’s names: Zepha. And he has not stopped since. He appropriates public space and disrupts visual habits: a graphic utopian fight undertaken against a system guided by savage man-eating liberalism and advertising. Arabic calligraphy strongly influences his work through his training by the Moroccan calligrapher, Abdelatif Mustad and the discovery of the work of the Sudanese calligrapher, Ahmed Abdel Aal. With the Kufic and the lively Diwani styles, he has rediscovered the workings of composition, balance of letters and movement appropriated by graffiti. What is Latin or Arabic gets distorted, diverted, connected, mixed, accumulated, leading to a form of dreamlike and labyrinthine writing.
Abadiehafez.com


Lebanon-based artists participating in WHITE WALL's outdoor interventions:

Abe • Ali • Ashekman • 
Ben • Dih Dihzahyners • EPS • 
Fish 
• Horek • 
K-Brit
 • Kimewi
 • m3alim
 • Oras • 
Pac
 • Phat 2
 • Sens
 • Twik
 • Y2T • 
Yazan • 
Zed

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