Anachar Basbous has regularly erected his sculptures in public spaces across Lebanon, including sites such as Rachana (where his father, the eminent sculptor, Michel Basbous, inaugurated an open-air sculpture park in the early 1960s), the Sanayeh Garden in 1995, and downtown Beirut in 2008, for which he produced a site-specific monument to commemorate the Prime Minister Rafic El Hariri’s assassination. His exhibitions have also been hosted in the Beiteddine Palace, the Silk Factory in Beiteddine-Maasser, Starco, and Agial Art Gallery. His current exhibition at Saleh Barakat Gallery is his first extensive exhibition in a large white cube space in Beirut.
Anachar Basbous’ work is at home in the white cube. Decades of artistic, curatorial, and art historical practice have revealed that the notion of the white cube as a neutral space is ideological. However, it is in the white cube that Basbous’ work is no longer put in the service of a site which ultimately remains extrinsic to its conceptualization. To put it differently, Basbous is an artist of skill, rather than gesture.
Anachar Basbous’ work is idealist in character: with the inversion of the inside and outside, the whole is not fragmented and lost. The parts stand in for the whole, with the latter defined by its essence rather than appearance. Echoing Constantin Brâncusi via Michel Basbous, there is a binary split between essence and appearance in which the essence is foregrounded. But in its monumentality, Anachar Basbous’ work articulates its own singular voice.
9 November - 29 December, 2018
27 November - 29 December
Text by Natasha Gasparian
Semaan Khawam (b. Syria, 1974) is a self-taught artist who has worked in painting, sculpture, design, graffiti, acting, and poetry. In 1988, he fled Syria for political reasons and settled in Beirut where he now lives and works. His artwork is informed by the daily reality of the city he lives in. He uses his work to draw attention to political contradictions, social injustice, the lack of cultural appreciation and other uncomfortable realities. Early in 2012, he spray-painted an armed soldier on a wall in Gemmayzeh to remind people of the Lebanese Civil War, something which he feels has been forgotten. His arrest for this act drew international attention to the limits on free speech and artistic expression. For his latest series of sculptures, which initially grew out of an individual response to the “garbage crisis” in Lebanon in 2015, be began to make use of found materials, including recycled paper, cigarette boxes, and plastic bottles. Across his work, there is one leitmotif that dominates his practice, that of the “birdman”. The birdman is a composite creature, made up of two unnecessarily, and not immediately, contradictory things, a bird and a man, which embodies a resistance between the state of things as they are, and the way they could be if the human were not alienated from its own kind.