Marwan Sahmarani, Untitled. Oil on Canvas, 225 x 300 cm
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Marwan Sahmarani, Revolution I. Oil on Canvas, 225 x 400 cm

Leila Heller presents Before the Blast, an exhibition of work by artist Marwan Sahmarani. Ninety-five percent of the works in the exhibition were completed prior to the explosion 2020 in Beirut, Lebanon. These works thus illustrate the aggravated tension in which the country was living in the eighteen months leading up to the blast. While none of the works explicitly address the explosion, they all exemplify, through brushstroke, movement, and colour, the increasing strain between government and peoples that was well underway prior to the blast.

Breaking slightly with his previous works, those in Before the Blast are highly connected to the people and region. Geometric bodies en masse convey the chaos and conflict that constituted day to day life in Lebanon. Motifs of flesh, body, and violence populate the canvases and emphasise human destruction. One of his works, Revolution I, was hit by a window when his studio went down in the blast. Now sewn back together with a needle, it still holds the scars of the blast.

Within the works in Before the Blast, the background and foregrounds are mixed together and the viewer can almost experience the turmoil and tension that Sahmarani felt in Lebanon. Unequivocally, Sahmarani expresses his feelings about living in a country torn economically, politically, culturally, and structurally.

Ten percent of all proceeds from Before the Blast will be donated to a charity of the artists choice to aid in blast relief efforts in Lebanon.

The show is on view December 1, 2020 through January 1, 2021.

We’re taking you on a tour to explore the works.

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