“The Future is Near” at Saleh Barakat Gallery in Beirut explores the theme of grief and adaptation while acknowledging the universal nature of loss and the ongoing challenges faced by individuals worldwide. Comprising 50 artworks, the exhibition takes the viewer through the five stages of grief, presenting a realistic yet optimistic perspective.
The artist, Tarek El Kassouf, notes the profound changes that have occurred in Beirut in recent years, leaving the city wounded and transformed. The exhibition serves as a call for optimism and an inward journey towards change. Through the use of three different stones from the Mediterranean as well as gold, the artist creates a sacred language that allows for personal communication with the country and each observer of the artworks.
The first stage of grief explored in the exhibition is denial, which acts as a silent shock absorber, helping individuals survive a significant loss. It provides an alternate reality and a path towards healing if one chooses to confront it. The second stage, anger, is portrayed through a somatic experience of the body, slowing down to understand and feel the effects of a shattered life. Anger serves as a binding force, enabling individuals to assign blame and seek justice for their grief.
The third stage, bargaining, involves attempting to negotiate with the unknown beyond ourselves, desperately trying to regain the life we had before grief. However, the exhibition emphasizes that there is no going back and no way to salvage the past. The fourth stage, depression, is characterized by the emptiness and struggle of living in a new reality without what was lost. It represents the last stage of processing trauma and purifying one’s emotions. The exhibition ends on the fifth stage: acceptance. Having travelled through the journey of the five stages of grief, individuals come to understand their current state and accept their new reality. Although acceptance may be disheartening, it signifies the decision to move forward, heal, and grow.
The exhibition entices the viewers with the thought-provoking question of self-identity. Having experienced the transformative process of grief, individuals are prompted to reflect on who they have become in the face of loss and adaptation.
About Tarek Elkassouf
Tarek Elkassouf is an artist based in Beirut and Sydney, whose work revolves around the exploration of balance, light, and the beauty found in the ordinary. He pays attention to the often overlooked aspects of life, finding inspiration in the mundane. Elkassouf’s art reflects the dialogue between man and machine, as well as the connection between creation, sculpting, and presentation. His works have been exhibited internationally and commissioned by renowned institutions like the Institute of the Arab World and Ithra. Elkassouf’s art can be found in collections across the globe, from France to Saudi Arabia, and he has collaborated with notable brands such as Cartier and FIFA.
Location: Saleh Barakat Gallery Beirut, Lebanon
Duration: 15 June – 12 August 2023