Category Archives: sursock museum

Ya Hala Monsieur Courbet

Inspired by Courbet's The Meeting

Ya Hala Monsieur Courbet – Digital Print on Epson water resistant textured matte canvas 375g/m2  250x125cm

This  is my reinterpretation of Courbet’s “The Meeting” also known as “Wealth meeting Genius” or “Bonjour Monsieur Courbet” . My “artist meeting patron” version was inspired by Sursock Museum and Beirut’s soundscape, but also by the tumultuous relationship between artists and the global art establishment in general.
With power, money , notions of belonging and affiliations being key to understanding the structures of the art system, the relationship between the art establishment and artists has never been as tumultuous. Mega artists are leaving blue-chip galleries that have been representing them for many years whilst underground artists are finding it more difficult to be visible and have their work shown. Litigations and Art fraud cases are in the news on a daily basis. Art lawyers also known as consiglieries or art angels, are making huge amounts of money from cases related to authenticity, forged masterworks, sales of worthless fakes, issues of appropriation and money laundrering. Auctions on the other hand are filled with chandelier bids and planted accomplices who bid against clients to ramp up the final price. Having said that, not everyone falls in the trap and there are still amazing curators, art experts, institutions and artists one can trust.With the emergence of a new map of contemporary art, where Europe and the West are not necessarily at the center, Beirut was cited as being one of the 12 art cities of the future. Most artists there as elsewhere are strugling hard for exposure. They live in osmosis with their environment, and sometimes, can’t help but have their opinions embedded in their work, despite the curatorial trends: remaining neutral to have a broader audience , or sticking to a certain theme to suit a patron’s agenda. These are the true authentic artists who would be greeting any patron or art expert with the same confidence as that of Courbet in “The Meeting” . Like him they belong “to no school, to no church, to no institution, to no academy, least of all to any régime except the régime of liberty”.

As i was visiting the exhibition at Sursock Museum “Let’s Talk about the Weather” I remembered an idea that i submitted in 2011 for an art/science collaboration competition somewhere in Europe. It was inspired by the true story of two jordanian bedouin illiterate women who were sent to India for six month to train as Solar technicians. Something similar was taking place in Bangladesh.The man behind the Bangladeshi initiative was the Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, which tells me such a project is a credible and feasible idea.

My proposal consisted of sending engineering students to poor remote villages in Lebanon, to train locals to install, use and maintain solar panels.

What about my role as an artist? I would be the creator of a short movie to document the project and to help spread the dream all over Lebanon.
Talking about Lebanon,what struck me most during my summer stay was the amount of noise pollution people have to live with. Loud shrieking speakers, exhaust sounds from cars and motorcycles, sounds of celebratory bullets shot in the air whenever a leader gives a speech or for whatever happy or sad occasion such as a wedding, a funeral,birth of a baby, promotion or even passing of a test. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a sound ministry that would regulate sounds and Integrate acoustic ecology in our urban design?

Work in progress, my version of Courbet’s The Meeting (Bonjour Monsieur Courbet)

Inspired by Courbet's The Meeting Inspired by Courbet’s The Meeting[/caption]

I was in london the day Sursock museum reopened it’s doors , how exciting ! It must have been so festive and fun to be there! After years of renovation , now it’s up and running and I can’t wait to visit ! That same night I couldn’t help imagining an artist at the reception, rising above all the criticism that was being showered on her by curators collectors patrons and art experts!
Few weeks later I came across the below  article by  a very respectable art critic, where Courbet’s  painting was mentioned. What a coincidence! Turned out artist meeting art patron had been done before.  The roles of star and supplicant have been reversed it’s true but some artists and hopefully a majority remain as confident and independent as Courbet in The Meeting. The article  was a major criticism of the corruption surrounding Art Basel Miami Beach. It is no secret to anyone that corruption has been a major ingredient of the art market.

If you’r wondering about the dramatic shift in style, it may be explained by the extensive costume research I did to participate in the  costume design competition  for Luc Besson’s movie Valerian .

Here was my submission, I didn’t win but it was so much fun!

Happy holidays to all!!