Downtown Beirut’s premier art space, Opera Gallery, has teamed up with Animals Lebanon, one of the country’s leading organizations actively working for the protection and welfare of animals, to host “Giving Back to Nature.” This new exhibit aims to highlight the power of nature and wildlife, while attempting to explain how animals have affected humans through the ages.

Animals have always fascinated humankind. Even at the dawn of history, cavemen drew animals on the walls of their dwellings, recreating what they witnessed in the wild. In Ancient Egypt, many Gods boasted animal shapes, while in North America, long before the arrival of the Europeans, the famed totemic statues often represented animals, reflecting the Native Americans’ belief that animals were connected to the spirit of the Gods.

The Opera Gallery exhibit illustrates nature’s impact on art by showcasing important pieces that featured animals at their core. Works on view include David Mach’s mind-blowing gorilla sculpture from the “Coathangers” series, made entirely from wire hangers. Mach’s work is particularly significant in this instance because his sculptures seem to exist in a mysterious, ethereal dimension, and they look as if they could vanish at any moment, much like the wild’s endangered species.

Other works that form part of the exhibit include Andy Warhol’s “Pink Cow on Yellow Background,” Mauro Corda’s fantastical sculpture of a panther with what appear to be gazelle horns, and Richard Orlinski’s “Crocodile (Red),” a delightful sculpture of a crocodile in red made from resin. Pascal Haudressy’s “The Frog and the Crow,” also on view, provides a statement on the deep changes of the modern era, in which biological entities now coexist with virtual beings. Haudressy’s haunting work is a result of a mixed artistic technique that encompasses resin, painting, wood and video projection.

Through this landmark exhibit, Opera Gallery and Animals Lebanon are attempting to enact a real transformation in local culture, hoping to change people’s perception of animals, in order to end the abuse and brutalization of these beautiful creatures.

“Giving Back to Nature” is on view until June 3 at Opera Gallery in Downtown Beirut.