Award-winning, Beirut-based art director and photographer Raya Farhat has been a contributor to Lebanon’s A Mag (Aïshti) and L’Officiel-Levant for over eight years. She’s collaborated with international photographers and stylists such as David Bellemère, Marco Pietracupa, Jürgen Teller and Oliver Hadlee Pearch, among many others. She’s also worked as an art director for international advertising agencies including JWT Italy and BBDO Beirut. A conceptual artist, Raya holds two Master’s degrees, one in advertising and graphic art from ALBA in Beirut, and another in art direction and photography from LABA in Italy. She’s held various exhibits of her work in Beirut, Paris and Florence. Most recently, Raya co-founded Art in Motion, a nonprofit organization that she also directs and whose mission is to make art accessible to all.
Born in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Salwa Zeidan left Lebanon in the 1980s and settled in the United Arab Emirates, where she worked as a painter and a curator. She has contributed significantly to the regional art scene by opening the first contemporary art gallery in Abu Dhabi, in 1994, focusing on showing Emirate, Middle Eastern and international artists. Working in multiple media including painting, mixed media and sculptures, Zeidan’s conceptual works border on abstract minimalist art and calligraphic gestures rendered in a dark palette. Her curvaceous brushstrokes can be found in her sculptural works, most notably in her Black Spiral series, which reflect freedom and movement. Her work can be found in international galleries in America, Switzerland, Italy, France, London, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and the wider Middle Eastern region. The artist continues to live and work in Abu Dhabi.
Mohammad El Rawas is one of Lebanon’s most prominent contemporary artists. He was born in 1951 in Beirut, Lebanon, where he studied at the Institute of Fine Arts at the Lebanese University, and later moved to London to study printmaking at the Slade School of Fine Art. El Rawas’ earlier work, produced during the late seventies and early eighties, relates to the violent conflicts wrought by the Lebanese Civil War. Through observing the disaster effects of conflict on his native Beirut, El Rawas produced complex spatial works, presenting juxtaposed images that muse on the memories, traumas and complex sociopolitical contradictions that make up the city. Soon after he fled to Damascus and Morocco where he began to experiment with his earlier collage works, developing techniques from graphic and printed images that moved him away from more representational paintings. His mixed media canvases begun in the 1980s and 90s incorporated wood, aluminum and string, and called on abstract expressionist and pop art gestures, an experimental and evolving style that is also reflected in his installation works. El Rawas has been exhibited internationally, and he has won notable awards for his work.
Omar Zeidan is a mixed media Lebanese artist who works predominantly in painting and digital media. Zeidan’s unique style borrows techniques from digital art as well as music and sound composition, owing to his experience as a techno composer. His digital print work focus on the minute details of flowers, blade of grass, and other textured surfaces, to create highly saturated colored images that appear almost kaleidoscopic on the canvas’ surface. Similarly, his electric and vibrant oil paintings are characterized by frenetic lines, in turn creating an abstraction of movement and color. The artist’s passion for art was undoubtedly shaped and nurtured by his mother, Salwa Zeidan, a notable Lebanese sculptor and painter. His works are held in various collections and public venues, including the Rocco Forte Hotel in Abu Dhabi. In addition to holding three solo shows and numerous group exhibitions at the Salwa Zeidan Gallery, Zeidan’s paintings have been exhibited in Abu Dhabi Art Fair and Bahrain Art Fair.
Born in 1970 in Beirut, Lebanon, Marwan Sahmarani studied at l’École Supérieur d’Art Graphique in Paris, France. His oil paintings are notable for his explosive use of color and frenetic brushwork that imbues the dense scenes he paints with energetic movement. First attracted to surrealist distorted figure, his later style moved closer to abstraction, blending Arabo-Islamic culture with iconography with that of Western civilization and art historical references. Owing to the sociopolitical milieu in which he works, Sahmarani’s work deals with the chaotic effects of war on society and individuals, and more broadly the political turmoil that ensues. He has held numerous solo shows including in Beirut, London, Montreal and Dubai and group exhibitions in Washington and Mexico, and in 2012 he took park in Contemporary Lebanon: Art Beyond Violence, Singapore Art Fair (Lebanese Pavilion), Singapore. In 2010, he was awarded the Abraaj Capital Art Prize. The artist is based between Beirut and Spain.
Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, Layal Khawly studied Interior Architecture at ALBA and later obtained an MA in Visual arts. Her paintings engage with the sociopolitical environment of Lebanese villages and cities, specifically the architectural and structural complexity of her surroundings, that are brought to life through layered painting techniques. In the artist’s words: ‘I’m lucky to have both backgrounds since I’m from a village where nature, beauty and simplicity coexist and where each stone tells a story. However, the city inspires me with its modernity, colors and the dynamic life within it.’ turmoil shaping her country. In May 2016, her work was selected by the Chinese Ministry of Culture to represent Lebanon at the National Museum of Art in Shanghai.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1948, Afaf Zurayk graduated from the American University of Beirut with a BA degree in Fine Arts in 1970, and later obtained an MFA from Harvard University in 1972. Inspired and guided by both music and poetry, Zurayk’s black ink drawings explores, in her words, ‘the fluctuating gradations of emotional experience’. This is reflected in her painterly style, which is characterized by frenetic brushstrokes that capture movement and flux – a technique that also marks her figurative and portrait works. More recently, her paintings move away from this ‘murmur’ into a resounding silence, where space expands emotionally to both contain and emit energy. In addition to her many solo exhibitions, both in Beirut and Washington, DC, Zurayk has participated in a number of group shows, most notably the exhibition Forces of Change held in 1994 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC. The artist has held numerous teaching positions, at the Corcoran College of Art and Design and Georgetown University, both in Washington, DC. She currently teaches painting at the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese American University.
Born in Beirut in 1973, Raffi Yedalian studied Etching at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Art and Fine Arts at the Academy of Fine Art Toros Roslin. Yadalian’s etchings, paintings and wood and bronze sculptures are characterized by stylized human faces whose angular features convey a sense of eternal longing. His somber paintings of monochrome, morose figures often set against dark or single-colour backgrounds are affective, inviting a reflection on loss, melancholia and suffering. In 2012, his bronze monument Meghabard was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Lebanon and a miniature replica of the monument is part of H.H Pope Benedict XVI’s collection in Vatican City, and in 2015, he presented to H.H. Pope Francis his painting of Blessed Ignatius Maloyan, in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican. Additionally, several of Yedalian’s works are held in permanent collections including the Sursock Museum in Beirut, Modern and Contemporary Art Museum “MACAM” Lebanon, Museum of Armenian Genocide in Armenia and the Museum of the Convent of Bzommar Lebanon.
Born in Lebanon in 1957, Hanibal Srouji studied in Lebanon and Canada and has been living between Beirut and Paris since 1989. His muted canvases which appear abstract at first glance, are in fact inspired by the artist’s own memories. He is best known for using a blow torch to create small holes that resemble bullet holes found on dilapidated buildings, or vertical lines that break the painting’s surface and are said to allude to imprisonment and entrapment. Whether burning his canvases or embellishing them with neon tubing, Srouji is constantly seeking new ways to convey his ideas visually. The artist received his BFA and MFA in Painting from Concordia University, Canada, and later received a D.N.S.E.P in Fine Arts from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Nîmes, France. He has exhibited in numerous exhibitions in Abu Dhabi, Basel, California, Dubai, Geneva, London, Montreal, New York, Paris, Strasbourg, Singapore, and Tokyo. Srouji lives and works in Beirut where he is the Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at the Lebanese American University.
New York-based artist Yasmina Nysten was born in Helsinki in 1988 and has lived in Finland, France, Lebanon, and the U.S. She studied art at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Art (ALBA) and New York’s Pratt Institute and works in a variety of media, including drawing, painting, illustration, and installation. Her colorful acrylic paintings often capture distorted figures or absurdist gestures, that disrupt an otherwise familiar scene. Her more recent paintings of casual scenes of youth gathered together, drinking or lounging by the pool, capture the warmth and collegiality of the human condition. She has exhibited widely in Lebanon, and internationally at galleries such as Ayyam Gallery Dubai (2013 to 2015) and Ouchi Gallery – New York (2009). In addition to completing a Photography Residency at the School of Visual Arts Exhibition (New York 2008), Nysten held two solo shows, ‘The 7 Minute Special’ [solo at the Kleio Project (New York 2009)] and in 2010 she curated and participated in the exhibition “Kings of the Impossible” at “Kleio Projects” (New York 2010).