Event Details

The forest was shrinking but the trees kept voting for the Axe, for the Axe was clever and convinced the trees that because its handle was made of wood, it was one of them.

Sfeir-Semler gallery is enormously proud to announce the reopening of its Beirut space with Marwan Rechmaoui’s solo exhibition. Despite the severe economic and political crisis we are going through in Lebanon since October 2019, despite the August 4th, 2020 blast that destroyed hundreds of lives, and wrecked our space, despite the sanitary crisis that has brought the whole world to a halt, despite it all, we resist, in pursuit of our mission to promote the city’s brilliant cultural scene and to offer the world a window to look through.

Marwan Rechmaoui is a conceptual sculptor who works predominantly with concrete, metal, found materials, textile, rubber and wax. Throughout his career he has produced work related to, or based on, the socio-geographies of cities, often focusing on Beirut. In the wake of last August’s explosion, he started working in the rubbles of the gallery space, determined to preserve vanishing moments by embedding them into solid material. He produced works that reflect on a decaying political system, and on the thousands of disoriented desperate Lebanese that fill the streets of the city. This new body of works responds to the ongoing Pillars series which he started in 2014. While clearly referring to rotting foundations, or decaying abandoned structures, the roughness of the work is often lightened by a touch of humor or an unexpected poetic insert.

In a drawing cabinet, the artist presents his personal diary that chronicles on notebooks and drawing paper thoughts and images about daily news, events happening around him, music, his garden.

The exhibition also presents the most recent addition to the Buildings series, The Coop, reproduces to scale the abandoned Raouché Market, the steel and cement incomplete structure that still stands in the south of Beirut. It is the result of a joint venture started by 575 vendors who had to evacuate their stalls and kiosks on the waterfront in 1982, after the Israeli invasion. The construction of the 600-unit large indoors market was halted in 1986.

Beirut by the sea is one of Rechmaoui’s wall sculptures showing an aerial view of the city’s coast. Following the city’s districts that he mapped multiple times, the work is composed of 13 pieces, each representing one of the 13 coastal boroughs in solid concrete, another reminder of the corruption that has robbed people of beachfront public spaces, invaded by landfills or private resorts.

Systematically cataloguing buildings, streets, sites and unfinished structures, Rechmaoui examines the traces of recent and ancient historical moments. His interest in the making and construction of cities brings forward complex questions around the formation of multi-cultural identities, and mirrors socio-political structures through themes of urbanization and contemporary demographics.

Courtesy of Sfeir-Semler Gallery



April 15 (Thursday) - August 14 (Saturday)


Sfeir Semler Gallery

Admiralitätstrasse 71, D-20459, Hamburg, Germany


Sfeir Semler Gallery

Admiralitätstrasse 71, D-20459, Hamburg, Germany

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