‘Chasing the Sun’ by Marwan Rechmaoui at Sfeir Semler Downtown, Beirut

Sfeir Semler Gallery Beirut presents Marwan Rechmaoui’s latest solo show, ‘Chasing the Sun’ at Downtown, Beirut from March 13 until July 27, 2024. Marwan Rechmaoui, known for his conceptual sculptures in concrete, metal, rubber, and wax, delves into an exploration of urban socio-geographies through the lens of play. Reflecting on childhood memories in Beirut, Rechmaoui revisits his youth through playful installations, including marbles, kites, and hopscotch outlines, drawing from sketches made in the 1990s. These recreations are juxtaposed with wax representations of nature, highlighting the transformative power of childhood experiences.

Installation view, Chasing the Sun, 2024, Sfeir-Semler Downtown, Beirut, Lebanon. Courtesy of the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut/Hamburg.

Inspired by Roland Barthes’ essay “Toys,” Rechmaoui explores the idea that childhood play shapes adult identity, suggesting deeper societal implications. He reflects on the relationship between war and play, highlighting the symbolic violence inherent in games that designate winners and losers, drawing parallels to Lebanon’s civil war.

Through this examination, Rechmaoui uncovers the strict social hierarchies present, where possession of coveted toys or exceptional skills elevated one’s status. Despite evolving into the digital age, the culture of competition ingrained in childhood experiences persists in shaping stratified societies.

Rechmaoui’s childhood games, often improvised, reveal the universal essence of play transcending materials. Whether using handmade or mass-produced toys, the play remains a language enabling children to communicate across cultures and contexts.

Ice Cream for a Dime, Grout, beeswax, oil paint, and coins on aluminum, Diptych
89 x 109 cm each. Courtesy of the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut/Hamburg.

About Marwan Rechmaoui

Marwan Rechmaoui, born in 1964 in Beirut, Lebanon, pursued sculpture and painting studies in Boston and New York from 1987 to 1993. His recent solo exhibitions include the Sharjah Art Foundation and the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, 2019. Rechmaoui’s art has been displayed globally, including at MoMA, New York (2022); Villa Empain, Brussels (2020); and Darat al Funun, Amman (2018). He received the 2019 Bonnefantenmuseum Award for Contemporary Art. Collections housing his work include MoMA, Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah Art Foundation, alongside other private and public collections.

Location: Sfeir Semler Gallery, Downtown, Beirut.

Date: March 13 until July 27, 2024

Caption featured image: Installation view, Chasing the Sun, 2024, Sfeir-Semler Downtown, Beirut, Lebanon Courtesy of the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut/Hamburg.

Grout, beeswax, oil paint on aluminum, 89 x 109 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut/Hamburg.

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