Rima Nasser: Can you tell us how your relationship with the Dalloul Art Foundation began and your perspective on it as an artist?
Inaya Hodeib: I connected with Basel online in 2014, he reached out with a “hello I love your work”. My first thought was “hmmmm, I have heard of that name before!”. I answered and ever since we have been in close contact.
At first Basel expressed interest in my canine series, and as we got to know each other more, he supported both my themes in painting and sculptures. He was the first patron to commission a canine portrait, and the first to acquire one of my sculptures. I find it difficult to put our connection into words as we share personal and professional interests. Our absolute love for dogs, especially Temi, Ellie and Simsim, and future work plans are two of the topics we often discuss. There is a lot of trust between us, and I am able to freely express and discuss my thoughts and ideas about work with no reservation. I believe Basel’s direct and clear approach to communication means that, for me an artist with a lot of social anxiety, I never have to read between the lines, attempt to guess what is meant, worry about something missed or stress over potential misunderstanding. Communication is one of Basel’s great characteristics, augmented by his worldly experience, open minded approach and ability to absorb and understand the people he interacts with.
This trust is often reflected in my work for Basel and DAF in the form of total freedom. We are on the same page, and I feel comfortable enough to ask for advice, suggestions, and guidance as needed. This empowers me to explore different subjects and approaches freely and with confidence.
RN: The Dalloul Foundation has been a key supporter of your artistic career. Could you elaborate on the significance of their support in terms of your creative journey and development as an artist?
IH: DAF currently has more than a hundred of my works in several mediums. This includes sketches documenting products and curiosities from the 80s and 90s in Beirut. This series is part of a much larger project called Stories from B Town in which I try to archive the history of the familiar, from Tatra and Nido cans to sweets, portraits of people, and even shops. The project is my work to document, immortalise, and safekeep certain memories of my city, as it changes rapidly year after year.
RN: Basel Dalloul, as a prominent figure in the art world, has been instrumental in supporting emerging and established artists. How has his vision and commitment impacted your work and artistic aspirations?
IH: The works from the series currently at DAF started as a 20-piece collection. I showed Basel the initial portion and asked for his personal experience and memories of the period, this discussion brought back more memories that I had forgotten about including Yes 3 bwahad a very popular commercial that evolved during the 80s and 90s. We kept bouncing ideas and memories. I felt incredibly motivated to collect as many products as possible, which led to reaching out to all my contacts including family to build a portfolio of images and ideas of what we call “hratee2” or memorabilia going all the way back to the 50s. This transformed the series into a massive collaboration.
RN: The foundation’s support often extends beyond financial assistance. Can you share specific examples of how their mentorship or resources have influenced your artistry and career trajectory?
IH: The support offered by DAF and Basel personally goes beyond financial support and art collecting. Basel’s and DAF’s patronage plays the role of sponsor and advocate for the expansion and preservation of the arts and culture sector in Lebanon and the wider Middle East. This is no easy feat, as recognising the importance of an artwork, its timelessness and relevance, and supporting the artist behind it is a monumental task.