Curated By Menat Art Fair 2023

Curated By Menart Fair 2023 

The MENART FAIR is a global exhibition of modern and contemporary art, showcasing works by artists from the Middle East and North Africa, handpicked by highly regarded galleries. These artists hail from countries in the Middle East such as Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey, as well as from the Gulf States, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen, and from North African countries like Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. After the success of its launch in Paris, the team of MENART FAIR is now hosting its third edition, in Brussels from 3 to 5th February 2023 (VIP opening on 2nd February 2023).

Here are some highlights from the fair:

Flavie Audi, “Le Vase Communiquant”, 2022, © Everything I Want.

Flavie Audi is a French-Lebanese artist whose practice is defined by her manipulation of glass. Everything I want chose to show “Le Vase Communiquant” – which title refers to surrealist poet Andre Breton- in MENART as it embodies the galleries core mission to work with artists and designers who bring together art, technology and craft. This dazzling limited edition of functional art was exclusively created for Everything I Want.

Toufan Husseiny, “the Clouds”, 2022, © Baronian.

Toufan Hosseiny’s work is defined by repetitions of patterns and movements. Working mainly with textile as a medium in her work, she transforms what represents fear and anxiety into something playful and poetic. “The process is slow. I repeat the same movement again and again. A way for me to reconcile with the subject, reshaping the ugly into something beautiful.”

She illustrates the Clouds, thoughts, appearing and disappearing during her meditative process. “We create our own reality. Just look at the clouds passing by.” Each piece of the same fabric takes a different colour. A colour that will be interpreted differently by each of us.

Houssam Ballan, “Playing at Suhoor”, 2022, oil on canvas, 130 x 150 cm © Fann A Porte.

Houssam Ballan’s “Playing at Suhoor” is a powerful and thought-provoking work of art that invites the viewer to contemplate the deeper meanings and themes behind the image. The artist’s use of minimalism and symbolism is particularly effective in conveying the message and expressing ideas. The painting is a social vision of things, one of the boys is wearing his mother’s shoes as a hint to the absence of the father and the educational impact of that, here the mother and father are present but not depicted, the father is a missing or absent or insignificant person, and the mother is the nurturer but she is not present in the painting as well. The painting is based on the idea of Ramadan and the beautiful, lovely situation when children wake up for the pre-dawn meal and play until the time of fasting and before the holiday, a situation taken from our communities. The painting is a must-see for anyone interested in contemporary art and its ability to convey deep and meaningful messages.

Hala Schoukair, “Silenced Creases”, Acrylic on canvas, 2018, 137 x 148 cm, © Galerie Bessières.

This painting shows how Hala Schoukair offers a vibrant, structural framework of mineral and organic shapes, as long explored in traditional Middle Eastern art. She expands, revisits, and deepens this theme through the infinite repetition of a single motif, which has an unsettling effect on us about the painterly or organic nature of the picture plane.

The structure and intensity of her art makes it oscillate between abstraction and figuration. Her approach is timeless.

Georges Hanna Sabbagh, “Portrait of egyptian woman”, 1933, oil on canvas, 27 x 22 cm, © Galerie Françoise Livinec.

Born in 1887 in Alexandria, Georges Hanna Sabbagh was the student of Paul Sérusier and the friend of Maurice Denis to the Ranson Academy, before developing his studio between Paris and Cairo. In the land of his roots, he paints landscapes and portraits, where psychology surpass physical reality, aiming to create a sober plastic.

Adel Abidin, “Politically Correct”, 2018, © Galerie Tanit.

Galerie Tanit presents Adel Abidin’s “Politically Correct” (2018) at this year’s edition of Menart Fair in Brussels. Abidin twists and blurs the letters of the words “Politically Correct” in order to present this term in a fragile form, which is an accurate representation of how it can be misunderstood or misinterpreted. This remarkable installation is all the more relevant today.

Hamed Abdalla, Almouhaba Slavery, 1970, acrylic on canvas, 46 x 55 cm, © Marc Hachem.

The artist, born into a peasant family in Cairo, became famous for his “signs of Egypt” paintings inspired by daily life, before creating the “Mot-Forme” style. He had numerous exhibitions in the 1940s, including a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in Cairo, and taught a new generation of artists. He exhibited in Paris, London, Europe, the US, and Asia, including a show at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. In 1956, he left Egypt and later became involved in the pan-Arab movement, exhibiting in the Middle East and North Africa. His works are now displayed in international museums such as the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Tate Modern in London, and the Egyptian Museum of Modern Art in Cairo.

Eman Ali, Untitled 3, C-Type Print Lustre, 2022, 20 x 20 cm framed, Edition 5, © Hunna.

Untitled #3 is part of ‘Banat Al Fi’9a’ (The Silver Girls), a series in which Eman Ali brings to life the imaginary story of two daring and rebellious young women in 1960s Oman. This period in history, often referred to as the ‘dark ages’, is explored by the artist with the aid of AI, thus showing the potential of this technology to expand on her interest in storytelling.

Yasmina Hilal , “La Belle au bois dormant”, 2022, photo collage, 32 x 45 cm, © Zalfa Halabi.

The self-portrait of the artist herself dressed in her mother’s wedding dress and originally photographed on film at her grandmother’s home, embody the idea of transgenerational relationships that are strong in our culture. The manipulation and the layering in Hilal’s collage work speaks volumes of these complex relationships and pays tribute to photography as a way of preserving heritage from a unique subjective point of view.

Gregory Gatserelia, Post-Disaster Room, 2022, © The Great Design Disaster, photo by Sebastien Boettcher.

Having looked ahead, following all the well-conceived advice – looking twice before crossing the street, never stepping on the cracks, brushing after meals, a month’s supply of water and canned goods ready for the Apocalypse, strategically positioned clubs and hammers, gigantic boxes of batteries and all that toilet paper. Yet, the propensity for vigilance springs from the propensity for destruction snaking through our thoughts, a crouching monkey spying on the tiger’s waterhole, most of our impressive means based on fire, explosions, faucet-bursts, the spark igniting the explosion and the subsequent indifference of entropy. The heart of disaster is unexpectedness, ill- preparedness, those stupid final thoughts we wish hopelessly to revise once thought. Accidents only happen when we don’t expect them and the musing that follows human folly hardly arrests the beheading of our progress as it perches on time-bombs waiting to explode, inexcusably designed to explode, cracking our carbon back to the Earth. The chandelier unstrung but still bright, the meal unfinished, never to be digested, drinks spilled and left where they fell, phones still ringing, of course, never to be answered – nobody’s home, not even home itself, homeless inbodies, nothing more than ash from that surprising fire, vague dust fluttering through the far-off sunlight, peeking through some luckier other’s window.

Khaled Hournai, Napping 1, 2022, © Zayweh Gallery.

Khaled Hourani bases his works around the theme of the separation wall in a series
titled Leaping Over the Barrier. He suggests ways to circumvent the barrier, even if they were fictional. He relies on media images in getting his inspiration.

Tagreed Darghouth, “Flowers to my Father series”, Acrylic on canvas 40x40cm 2022

Tagreed Darghouth, a painter, addresses themes such as structural violence, popular culture, and marginalised groups through her use of abstract impressionism and thick impasto layers, created with energetic brushstrokes.

MENART FAIR 2023

Location: Boghossian Foundation, Villa Empain, Brussels
Duration: 3 February – 5 February

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