The “Art on 56th Street” gallery in Beirut is hosting an exhibition by Lebanese visual artist and sculptor Maroun El Hakim until August 6 under the title “A Salute to My Country”.
The artist, who returns to the art scene after a four-year absence, is exhibiting a collection of 36 new paintings made between 2017 and 2022 as well as 13 sculptures mostly made between 2016 and 2022.
The paintings fall into two different groups that differ in content but are interconnected in the sense of the artist’s attachment to Lebanon. His link binds him to a country where deep crises mingle with the gentleness of the land and its natural splendor.
The first group of works depicts a tragic city which is none other than Beirut, especially after the port explosion of August 4, 2020, and its aftershocks and scandals which still explode every day in the face of Lebanese citizens.
The second group of works paints the natural beauty of Lebanon and all that the country has been able to protect from harm and distortion for over 40 years.
A large collection of sculptures is also on display. The artist was indeed first of all a sculptor before swapping his chisel and his knife for the brush. But his works incorporate a long experience with different materials and multiple techniques.
In his introduction to the exhibition, the artist writes: “I am clothed with the soil of my country, I will not abandon the soil, I will not abandon my country”.
“I gather my personal pain, gather the sorrows of my slain country. Take refuge in a dream with hope, with beautiful patience, with wisdom and with will, and prevent tragedy, prevent disaster and the disappointments of time, from gaining victory over me.
He describes the current works as “characterized by their vivid colors and bright lights”.
But he goes on to say that “darkness prevails and death is reaping throngs of loved ones in my country. Bodies mingle with doors and windows, stones, dust and darkness, and all roads lead to the unknown, to crushing darkness.
“Hope becomes a mirage before the ruins of the surrendered city and its angry entrances.
“Dreams fade on the ruins, in the fall of disappointments, the darkness of the roads, and the bottom of the abyss.