Afaf Zurayk, Beirut Octet

In this most recent body of work, Afaf Zurayk (b. 1948) invites us to join her in a cathartic  journey of painting, poetic prose, and poetry. The journey mirrors the history of a city and of a generation that have borne the brunt of tragic events for decades, most poignantly epitomized in the horrific Beirut port blast of August 4, 2020. Through a narration of being and of witnessing, her art describes the conquest of trust, faith, and resilience over disappointment, alienation, and misfortune.

By far Zurayk’s most ambitious project to date, her poetic narrative brilliantly flows from the personal into the generational and geographic as well as the timeless and the global.

She paints a sensitive transformation from the earthly to the ethereal: “You are artists. You change pasts and form futures. You can move forward. It is all in the tilling, not in the trees.”

The exhibit is designed in the shape of an octagon, historically a symbol for renewal, rebirth, regeneration, and transition. It is laid out across eight distinct rooms, each featuring a chapter from “Beirut Octet: A Generation’s Journey of Resilience & Faith” as well as its relevant art work.



Afaf Zurayk is a painter, poet, and writer. With sensuality, transparency, and honesty, her work reflects her experience of the turbulent times of her generation. She is a seeker, not a finder, conveying in her painting and writing the questionings and upheavals of her time, constantly on a quest for an understanding of eternal human values and aspirations.

Afaf’s painting employs minimal color palettes that stretch expression to its limits, often using white, grey, and black to inspire the presence of color through its absence. Ever seeking transparency in her art, she uncovers raw emotion and paints the color of light. In her most recent paintings, fluctuations of white tones and brushstrokes invite the passage of time through lived realities and imagined dreams. A published author, her books, like her paintings, express, in sequence and rhythm, her faith in love as a bridge towards transcendence.


AZK-207, Afaf Zurayk, Beirut Octet, Mixed Media on carton, 47×57 cm, © Saleh Barakat Gallery


Beirut Octet is the coming together of painter and writer where individuality fuses with history in a contemplative inward journey of resilience and faith.


Location: Saleh Barakat Gallery- Clemenceau, Beirut
Duration: 11 January – 18 February



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