In ART

The Sursock Museum pays tribute to one of Lebanon’s greatest artists on her 100th birthday

Happy Birthday Saloua Raouda Choucair! To celebrate the 100th birthday of one of Lebanon’s most original and influential artists, the Sursock Museum is hosting a celebration tonight in collaboration with the Saloua Raouda Choucair Foundation.

Born on June 24, 1916, Choucair is one of the most recognised artists of her generation. Her exhibition at the Arab Cultural Gallery in Beirut is considered to have been the Arab world’s first exhibition of abstract painting, though recognition was slow in coming – Choucair sold nothing in Lebanon until 1962. Her pioneering approach to abstract art was rooted in her interests in modern architecture, Islamic art and Sufist philosophy. Working in a diverse range of media, including paintings, sculpture, mural, textile, jewellery and design, Choucair paired two basic elements – the line and the curve – to develop a unique visual language. She was awarded a medal by the Lebanese government in 1985 and her work was exhibited at the Tate Modern in London in 2013.

In honour of her centennial, the Saloua Raouda Choucair Foundation is loaning a series of recent sculptures to the Sursock Museum, which will be on display on the esplanade. Beginning at 6pm, a celebration will honour her legacy on the local, regional and global art scene, beginning with the presentation of a commemorative plaque by the Minister of Culture Raymond Araiji. A long-time friend of Choucair’s, artist and critic Samir Sayegh will make a speech, followed by a panel discussion exploring the artist’s work in greater detail, as well as her influence and her place in the history of regional cultural production.

The panellists will include professor of architecture at the American University of Beirut George Arbid, art historian and curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Clare Davies and art historian and curator at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project in New York Reem Fadda. The conversation will be moderated by modern Arab art specialist Kirsten Scheid and will be followed by a cocktail reception.

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