Aishti Foundation puts shimmering works amid the turmoil of Beirut

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Aishti Foundation puts shimmering works amid the turmoil of Beirut
© Bryan Denton
Aishti Foundation puts shimmering works amid the turmoil of Beirut
© Bryan Denton

The foundation, which is busy planning arts programming and a library, is one of the most ambitious of several new museums to open here recently, where luxury towers rise from what was once the rubble left by the civil war. It is the only one dedicated to contemporary art from abroad and for now will exclusively feature Mr. Salamé’s collection.

“Tony has undoubtedly become a highly visible and thriving force in the contemporary art world,” said the New York gallerist Friedrich Petzel, who has sold works by Wade Guyton and others to Mr. Salamé and attended the October opening. “However, more compelling than his perceived status is the fact that here is a man trying to articulate a very positive message in the middle of an actual war zone.”

The inaugural exhibition, which showcased 170 works from a collection of more than 2,000, was well received locally. It mixed Italian artists of the ’50s and ’60s like Lucio Fontana and Enrico Castellani with recent work by Carol Bove and Urs Fischer. Also on view were abstract paintings by Josh Smith, Laura Owens and Kerstin Brätsch, with videos by Camille Henrot and Akram Zaatari, featured artists in the 2013 Venice Biennale curated by Mr. Gioni. An entire room was dedicated to works by Glenn Ligon exploring African-American identity and history, along with a single piece from Danh Vo’s “We the People,” in which the Vietnamese-born Danish artist recreates parts of the Statue of Liberty.

Rayyane Tabet said he loved how the show juxtaposed Lebanese artists like himself with international artists rather than confining them to the category of “art from the Arab world.” “This is the closest to a contemporary art museum that we’re going to have for the near future,” he said. […]

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