How did the idea of establishing the Beirut Art Fair arise?
Our motivation is to open roads between cultures, between the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, as our passion is to promote a global dialogue predominantly motivated by art. Beyond stereotypes and fashionable productions, beyond ideologies, religions, and political views, our desire is to organize events that promote a dialogue between cultures as well as one that broadens horizons, and the Beirut Art Fair is a perfect example.
What will be the main highlights of Beirut Art Fair 2015 taking place in September?
For its new edition, Beirut Art Fair brings together around 50 galleries. They will present both established and emerging artists. Among them, around 20 new international galleries are joining us. Beirut Art Fair offers for the first time a journey through digital art with Bankmed as the main partner. In addition, for the first time in Beirut, a selection of videos of the international renowned artist Martina Abramovic will be presented. Roundtables have been organized on topics focusing on the changes affecting the art market. These topics and themes are put within the Middle East, North Africa, South and South East Asia (ME.NA.SA) context. We have also invited renowned personalities on the international artistic scene: collectors, curators, directors of cultural institutions, and organizers of international fairs. A major moment at the fair will be presenting new talents to discover in photography through the Byblos Bank Award, and new young designers with the BLC Design Platform, with the selection of gallery owner Loic Le Gaillard, one of the founders of Carpenter Workshop Gallery. A VIP Program is being developed thanks to the support of HSBC Private Bank, which includes private visits of art collections specially organized for foreign art collectors coming to Beirut for the first time to visit Beirut Art Fair. New charity associations, among them Dar Onboz and Brave Heart Fund, will be also featured this year. The third edition of Beirut Art Week with a new itinerary “outside the walls,” presenting monumental artworks and installations, will be showcased in the streets and in the shops of Beirut Central District.
What are the main challenges facing the global art market?
The world of art has been transformed in recent decades—in large part due to changing financial undercurrents. As noted by a veteran art dealer, Jeffrey Deitch, “the art world used to be a community, but now it's an industry.” Moving from a sales environment previously dominated by the urban art worlds of museums and galleries in Paris, Berlin, London, and New York, today's artists and art galleries must now confront a shifting paradigm for marketing works of art. With the increased costs of art production and marketing, many artists face an even greater financial challenge in the attempt to make a living selling art can be either easy or hard depending on circumstances.
What is your assessment of knowledge and perception of the Lebanese population towards culture?
The Lebanese are eager to learn, discover, follow the trends, and be up to date in terms of what is happening around the world. They are multilingual, which adds to their ability to have greater exposure. Our constant challenge to bring the best galleries and the best cultural program at each edition of Beirut Art Fair is also to always be up to the expectations of the Lebanese who have a high level of cultural knowledge.
What can be done to boost tourism in Lebanon?
Since the fair's inception, Beirut has experienced, simultaneously, a significant artistic development. To boost tourism in Lebanon, it would be ideal to promote the country as an “art destination” and offer different highlights on the cultural scene. With the opening of new institutions such as the Sursock Museum, the Aishti Foundation and the organization of numerous artistic and cultural events, Lebanon has all the requisite criteria to be considered an Art Destination. This would go hand in hand with international festivals occurring in Lebanon throughout the year gathering international artists and performers.