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Beirut Exhibition Center announce Paul Guiragossian: The Human Condition

Beirut Exhibition Center present Paul Guiragossian: The Human Condition on view November 20, 2013–January 6, 2014.

Paul Guiragossian, Self Portrait, 1951. Gouache on paper, 30 x 24 cm. Courtesy of the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Ramzi Saidi.
Paul Guiragossian, Self Portrait, 1951. Gouache on paper, 30 x 24 cm. Courtesy of the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Ramzi Saidi.
Paul Guiragossian: The Human Condition is the hitherto most comprehensive retrospective for the artist consisting of more than 100 paintings and works on paper, many of which never exhibited before, alongside an extensive range of original archival documents spanning five decades of his life. Curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath of Art Reoriented, a multidisciplinary curatorial platform based in Munich and New York, this is a long overdue re-assessment of the life and work of a pioneering artistic and intellectual figure from Lebanon and in the Arab world. On commenting about the show, the curators said: “Paul Guiragossian spent his entire life exploring through his art the human condition in all its facets until his passing in 1993. Twenty years on, while the predicament of the Arab world remains behest with so much turbulence, the exhibition offers a message of hope through presenting the visionary philosophy that lies behind Guiragossian’s work, not only in his contribution to Arab Modernity at large, but to his never ceasing faith in the ascendance of the human being.”

The exhibition contextualizes the multiple strands of Guiragossian’s career within a contemporary curatorial reading, highlighting his pivotal position amongst a specific generation of artists. It sheds light on his pursuit of a formalistic vernacular that constantly sways towards abstraction without fully rejecting figuration. The exhibition equally emphasizes Guiragossian’s preoccupation, through his art and writings, with an alternative paradigm to the Occidental narrative of modernity and his visionary articulation of an Arab-specific modernism that operates beyond the parameters of rupture vs. tradition, imitation vs. innovation and the rhetoric of post-colonial identity politics.

The exhibition is envisioned as a non-chronological, non-linear space where several interconnected galleries are based on one of the central topics that the artist kept on revisiting over the years: “Self,” “Family,” “Woman and Motherhood,” “Faith and Despair,” “Laborers and Street life,” and “Exile and Belonging.” These are recurring themes that drove the conceptual impulse underscoring Guiragossian’s relentless search for a formalistic expression that could best describe the infinite complexity of the human condition. “The exhibition does not follow a conventional exhibition format,” the curators added. “Paul Guiragossian believed that art existed beyond the dimension of time and it was important to reflect this philosophy in the presentation of his oeuvre.”

The exhibition is organized by the Paul Guiragossian Foundation that was initiated in 2011 by Guiragossian’s wife and five children to protect and promote the legacy of the artist. Manuella Guiragossian, exhibition advisor and daughter of the late artist, added: “Combining the substantial archival materials that the Foundation has assembled over the years with the vision of the curators, this retrospective will emphasize important aspects of his life and writing that will shed new light on his pivotal position within the art history of the region and beyond.”

Curators: Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath

Beirut Exhibition Center
Beirut Water Front