Visit September 17th, 2016 during the Beirut Art Fair

Knowing that you cannot compare the city of Beirut, the temples of Tyre and Saida, as well as Baalbek, with an art collection, I still have to say that exactly the collection DALLOUL made my visit complete.

Around 10.00 am we met in front of an apartment building, being shown the way to an upper floor.  Entering the first of four flats, each having 400 m², we got surprised by a complete museum set up. The over all presentation surface covers approximately 1600 m².

With over 3500 art pieces, focusing on Middle East, the collection DALLOUL is the biggest one of its kind in Middle East. Dr. Basel Dalloul, the Chairman and CEO of Noor Group, the leading industry in the field of information technology in 135 countries, was guiding through the massive collection and someone could feel his passion for art.

The collection was started by his father Dr. Remsi Dalloul. It was built not only from an aesthetical point of view, but more so to focus on artists who are politically engaged. The whole collection deeply impressed me by the power of the displayed work, even when I will just mention a few artists within that short outline.

The walk through starts with a portrait of a warrior by the Lebanese artist Ayman Baalbaki. He has an amazing way of using paint strokes and is one of the emerging artists within the Lebanese art scene. I was personally always impressed by artists like Eva Hesse or Magdalena Abakanowicz especially of the way how they used material. Seeing the work of Hannaa Malallah, an artist from Irak, I was therefore immideatly reminded. She  put together a collage of burnt left over material. This was her way to express, what happened to her country during the war through the US.

And a real soul work in large scale was realized by Nabil Nahas, a Lebanese artist. He is using pigment and acrylic in a new form and his painting express a harmony by breaking through a 2-dimensional use of the surface, growing so to say into space.

And finally I want to focus on Abdul Rahman Katanani, a Palestinian artist, who refers in his work to his family, which equals a lot of Palestinian families stories. Using metal cut outs, he shows the scenery of his grandfather, his grandmother and aunt leaving to Libanon for a short period of time. In reality they couldn´t come back to their country. The painting is disposed by a sculpture made of barbed wire, representational for all the violence taking part at this part of the world.

The collection made me humble for the appearing Zeitgeist within an art scene I know too little about. The task is very clear set, by just focusing on Middle Eastern art with a political background. I was really tempted to hide in the storage to spend more than the glimse I got from the collection.

But as mentioned by Dr. Basel Dalloul, there is hope to see the collection again, as the family ultimately plans to open up a museum for modern and contemporary Arab art, which will be based in Beirut. This is a great gift to present this immense collection to the public.