Friday, April 29, 2011

Kristel Hanna's Color's Language

Born in Beirut where she still lives and works, Kristel Hanna is a young Lebanese artist for whom the language of art has no limits.

Since she graduated Kristel's career has consistently evolved earning her the recognition of both professionals and public. Her works have been exhibited in renowned galleries and private shows in several countries. In her latest collection "color's language", she explores the mystic side of human body with high contrasts and shadows, and daring lines. "Colors reflect the beauties of life and connect us to the energies of the world" says our talented artist.

You can browse and purchase Kristel's work on

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Souleima Zod, a Multi-talented Artist!

Born in Lebanon where she resides and works, Souleima Zod has since 1977, taken part in many artistic events of which a hundred personal and collective exhibitions in Lebanon, Paris, Bahrain, Aleppo, Damascus, U.K., Washington DC. is pleased and honored to count Ms. Souleima Zod amongst its favorite Lebanese artists!

Souleima Zod is a painter, an illustrator of literary work and theatre posters, a designer of costumes and jewels… Her name appears in ‘Benezit of the Artists’ edition 1999 and in encyclopedia ‘Encarta’ of Microsoft. Her work is a search for transparency, a meditation color.

You can join Souleima's facebook fan page here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cafe in Saifi Village offers visitors an outlet to express their creativity

Monday, March 17, 2008

By Nathalie Fox
Special to The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Parents settle their young excited children at a table where they will get their hands dirty decorating pieces of ceramic pottery that they have chosen. At another table, a group of teenage girls exchange the latest gossip about their school while painting their pieces as gifts for Mother's Day. A little girl chooses rainbow-colored paints to adorn her fairy figurine. A teenage boy tries to figure out how to paint symmetrical blue and green stripes across a mug, as his grandmother wonders out loud how her vase will turn out.

Ceramic Lounge, which opened on January 21, 2006, is a cafe where anyone can create their own art, even if they are not particularly artistic. First, you select a white piece of ceramic pottery from a wide range of mugs, plates, bowls, boxes, banks and figurines. There is a wide selection of paint colors to choose from, along with an assortment of brushes and sponges. For those who need inspiration there is the Idea Corner where a selection of books, magazines and drawings are available. A team of art assistants explain the painting techniques and help with any questions one might have. The painted item is then left at the cafe for a week where it will be glazed, processed and baked - the final work of art will be microwave and dish washer resistant. Ceramic studios began to open across the United States, Canada and Europe in the early 1990s. The first one appeared in New York City around 1993. Ceramic Lounge is the only such place in Lebanon, established by the owner, Marcelle Tanal, 33, who has lived most of her life abroad. Tanal was inspired to create Ceramic Lounge because of the many contemporary ceramic studios in Montreal. "I wanted to open a cafe where people can get away from the routine of their lives, where they can relax, have fun, and feel at home at the same time. Also, there was no such place in Lebanon and I believe that Lebanese people have so much creativity. Ceramic Lounge is an outlet to express this creativity," says Tanal. After four months of searching for the ideal location, Tanal chose the location for Ceramic Lounge in Saifi Village, next to Downtown Beirut. Tanal says that Saifi is perfect because of its strategic location in the heart of the capital. More importantly, Saifi Village is also known as Le Quartier des Arts, or The Art Village, because of its numerous art and designer galleries, antique stores, artisan shops and specialty boutiques.

Sahar Bsat, the manager, says that Ceramic Lounge is packed during the summer and in December because schools are out. Also, many Lebanese who live outside the country and visit in the summer and at Christmas make it a point to visit Ceramic Lounge at least once during their stay. Bsat, 27, adds, "We weren't expecting 70 percent of our customers to be children!" Christiane Chami, 49, who has been going to Ceramic Lounge for the last two years, used to go daily but now goes once or twice a week. "I like painting and doing useful activities. I feel relaxed and I forget everything around me. Also, it is a way to pamper myself," she says. Ceramic Lounge serves food and beverages such as sandwiches, salads, coffees, juices and desserts. The cafe also hosts many events and competitions for special occasions, with an assortment of prizes for participants. Every month, customers vote in a competition for the best artistic piece. March is Mother's Month, in celebration of Mother's Day on March 21, and all mothers who spend time at Ceramic Lounge are given special treatment. Lamis Ghanem, an LAU student, went to Ceramic Lounge for the first time with her boyfriend last week. "It was intimate and personal, as well as something new and creative," she says. "During the day it was like a nursery though, because of all the children. But in the evening more couples came. "However, it is a bit expensive. Still, I'm planning to go again with my sister to make a gift for my mom since it's Mother's Day soon."

While Ceramic Lounge is the only branch, the cafe sets up open-air hubs in the summer in places such as in Faraya, Faqra and Beit Mery. Tanal is looking to open a hub on a beach this summer, as well as to open more branches of Ceramic Lounge. Bsat says that the cafe prefers to employ university students as art assistants because they are "fresh, artistic, friendly, enthusiastic and especially those who are also involved in volunteer work and other activities. Our employees are very popular among the customers." Jad Jean Yazbeck, 25, a student at the American University of Science and Technology majoring in graphic design, has been working in Ceramic Lounge as a cook and as an art assistant for a year and three months. "I don't feel like I'm working because I'm having so much fun at the same time," he says.

Tanal doesn't let the political situation or the opposition's protest in Downtown Beirut affect business at Ceramic Lounge, which opens every day. Tanal adds that business has been very good, "we have stayed alive." Yara Hanna, 12, spends time with her mother, her friends, or by herself at Ceramic Lounge once a week: "It's a very calm and pleasant atmosphere. I even take a book with me while I wait for the paint to dry." Her mother, Jessy, adds: "It's nice to see my daughter so excited and happy whenever she comes back from the cafe." The materials for Ceramic Lounge are shipped in from the US and stored in warehouses. The ceramic pieces come ready-made, and the brushes, paints and books come from abroad. "We cannot compromise on the quality, especially so the ceramic pieces don't break easily or the paint fades. After all, they are souvenirs," Tanal says. The prices of the ceramic items and paint colors depend on, "the latest style and trend of the model, the latest fashion and design," says Tanal. "My goals for Ceramic Lounge were definitely attained, and we have many more projects in mind," Tanal says, smiling.

Revolution for peace: Lebanese Hip Hopper for Peace

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Firas Safa, aka l'Fahrass, is 17 years old and raps in three languages. The message is the same in all of them: Entifada lal salem, revolution pour la paix, a revolution for peace. His friend Omar Zeinedinne - Mista Dee - aged 25, says that, "in general, hip hop is the voice of the oppressed," but the Lebanese don't rap about racism, "we rap about war." Lebanon is a long way from the streets of America where hip hop began and here, its concerns are very different. In the US, worries rumble on that rappers glorify violence, but here, while Lebanon's burgeoning hip hop movement is influenced by American rappers, the young, angry artists have a passionate message of peace.

"I see [rapping] as a mission to improve Lebanon," says Firas, in a documentary called Peace Beats, which follows the story of a US Aid-sponsored project, Hip Hop for Peace. Raffi Feghali, the project's manager, explains that, "Basically it started with the goal of taking a group of hip hop artists and transforming them into messengers of peace." A long-term hip hop fan, Raffi, who wears a white tip-tilted trilby, explains that he had made himself aware of every hip-hop artist in Lebanon, and when he managed to secure funding for Hip Hop for Peace, invited a group of them to participate in a camp in Broumana, which, "included training for these artists in conflict resolution," and encouraging them to come up with advocacy tools. One of these tools, he said, was the CD that the group produced, featuring tracks by all of them and focussing on the theme of peace, and hip hop nights organized by the artists themselves. They sound great, too. The gigs they have done have been full of energy.

"Why hip hop?" says Raffi. "Because it is on the rise in Lebanon. It is the language of the youth and we are trying to target youth."

Although it started as an imported genre, largely listened to by university students, the middle classes with access to foreign culture, Raffi now says that it is increasingly popular, "among poor people. It is accessible for ordinary people." The Peace Beats documentary shows tensions running high as the artists - from all religions and backgrounds - struggle to convince one another to overcome their differences, but they now seem enthused about their message and, "it is a group of amazing guys - and a girl," says Feghali, "I expected that we would have a hard time managing the group but they proved me wrong." There are, he explains, Lebanese in the group, an Armenian and several Palestinians. A lot of the artists are teenagers, and the documentary's footage of a Christian girl going to a Palestinian camp in Lebanon to work with a friend, and explaining that her parents would be furious if they knew she was there, is touching and impressive.

As the Palestinian cause has been pushed to the fore in recent weeks by the mass bloodshed in Gaza, Lebanon's hip hop artists are heading a fundraising event. As Firas says, "we decided to do this because of what is happening in Gaza. We are not supporting Hamas but we want to support the kids dying and the women dying. We wanted to do something that was art - the protests are getting nowhere." Palestinian hip hop, as recent documentary Slingshot Hip Hop showed, address frustration at conflict and calls for peace, like the Peace Beats crew. Though Firas has not yet seen the film, he likes it before seeing it, "cos that's what hip hop is all about, speaking your mind," he says.

The event, was scheduled for January 24 2009 (at 5pm at Madinah Theatre, Hamra), featured l'Fahrass and other artists Malikah, Fari' l-Uturuch and Palestinian refugees I-Voice. Stand-up comedian Mazen Abdallah was there, poet Diala Ahwach performed her work about Gaza and the Rek Crew worke together on peace-themed graffiti art.

"They say if you want peace," says Firas, "you've got to prepare for war. That's what we're doing; a war. Our weapon is the pen and the paper, and our Ideology is based on revolutionary art and poetry. We think hip hop is revolutionary music which can lead to peace, by saying what we want to say, so everyone will listen."

Downtown demonstrators turn to creative pursuits

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Downtown demonstrators turn to creative pursuits; Canvases on view in the parking lot near Riad al-Solh Square express dreams of unity and a desire for change
By Iman Azzi
Daily Star staff

BEIRUT: Two blue tents stand in the foreground flanked by a dozen human forms. In the background, a crescent moon tops a minaret next to a cross on a steeple. An endless number of tents are lined up toward the horizon. Pan out to the edges of the painting, one of many on display in a parking lot adjacent to Riad al-Solh Square. The scene portrayed on this canvas represents an artistic representation of the current reality in Downtown Beirut. Since December 1, anti-government protesters have pitched tents, ditched their jobs or classes and settled into temporary digs in Downtown with hopes of overthrowing the government or at least securing greater political power. After two successful mass demonstrations - the last on December 10 was dubbed the largest in Lebanon's history - the numbers have dwindled and some of the protesters who remain have turned to art to pass their time. Some of the paintings are part of organized efforts, others have been thrown up illegally, and all of them are inspired by dreams of change. As a bid to keep the demonstrators entertained, organizers have scheduled a series of events and designated certain areas as "activities tents." Debates, concerts, guest lectures - along with loudspeakers blasting Hizbullah's greatest hits on repeat - have joined nargileh smoking, card playing and backgammon on the list of popular demonstration downtime hobbies. Last Thursday, the first "art night" in the tent city was held. A crew of young women artists donated canvas, paint and time to express their ideas on the crisis. "It was open to everyone but only women participated," says Zeina, a graphic design student who declined to give her last name. "Here we all share a united vision but through art we can express it differently." Over 20 local women gathered in the activities tent in the parking lot across from the Buddha Bar. "The paintings are not for sale. They're on display to show others that there are unlimited ways to express support for the demonstrations," Zeina explains, taking a break from a lecture she was attending on the political scene in Lebanon since the July-August war with Israel. Zeina points to the paintings and says people are free to paint how they feel. Some have chosen to depict scenes of the tent city itself, while others have delved into the abstract.

One particularly morbid canvas shows six gray corpses acting as pallbearers carrying the coffin of Lebanon. Their hearts have been torn out and replaced by bloody holes. Another canvas features a Lebanese flag placed out of the reach of a grasping hand that is trapped behind a wire fence. "I painted a cedar tree surrounded by the colors of different political parties. The cedar is a symbol of standing and perseverance," says Fatmi Najdi, 20. An art student at the Lebanese University, Najdi used her canvas to express unity. "Everybody has the right to participate. I chose to paint all the colors to bring them together around the symbol of Lebanon." Across the parking lot toward the Serail is a 3-meter banner covered in colorful ink cartoons and scrawled messages. The banner was erected as another activity, a blank space open for individual opinions. Some people signed their names, others wrote messages and some drew the symbols of the Marada Party, that of the Free Patriotic Movement or the cedar tree from the Lebanese flag. There is an image of the US flag with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's name inside. Another image depicts a bird. Others still seem to relish in the incoherent art of finger painting, replete with wide colorful swirls. While not exactly on the fast-track to fine art museums around the world, the works of the anti-government protesters express the intimate dreams of their demonstrations - a celebration of many colors representing many parties at once.

Lebanese Crafts Struggle to Survive

Lebanon has a reputation for cultivating local crafts, from metalwork to woodwork and many are still making a living from their traditional skills.

But faced with cheaper imports from China and India it is getting tougher to survive.

This has prompted some to try to raise the profile of local craftsmen.

Katy Watson reports :

Online Galleries...? Soon!

The trend for online art-buying is picking up as Art Galleries go online:

Clicking on a Masterpiece

Are collectors ready to buy million-dollar artworks online? Some of the biggest names in art and technology are betting on it. Surfing for Pollock, de Kooning and Basquiat.

Next weekend, art collectors sitting at computers in London, Toronto and Miami will find themselves face to face with the same work of art, a montage by American artist Robert Rauschenberg. The price for interested online shoppers: more than $1 million.

Art executives are hoping to sell million-dollar pieces online, something that flopped when they tried it a decade ago. Ellen Gamerman explains what's different this time around.

The question of whether top-tier art can successfully be sold online has long bedeviled the art world. High-end collectors have traditionally been leery of spending significant money on art they haven't seen in person, and a number of online-art selling ventures fizzled early on. But as more and more powerful art buyers emerge from Asia, Russia and the Middle East, the need to quickly reach collectors around the globe has never been greater. And dealers are looking for ways to reach a younger generation that's beginning to explore the art market—without alienating their best clients.

Now, some of the biggest names in the worlds of art and technology are betting that collectors will spend millions on paintings and sculptures that they've only seen online. A who's who of top galleries is taking part in the VIP Art Fair, an online-only event where potential buyers can shop for works by contemporary and modern artists like Jackson Pollock, Louise Bourgeois, Francis Bacon and Damien Hirst. Nearly 140 galleries from more than 30 countries—including blue-chip dealers like David Zwirner, Larry Gagosian and the Pace Gallery—have paid to host virtual booths.

Shopping Online for Great Works of Art


Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, Twitter chairman and co-founder Jack Dorsey and Russian mega-collector Dasha Zhukova are investing in, a new service set to launch this spring. The site is designed to help collectors find art based on their personal preferences and past buying history, much the way the music site Pandora guides music lovers to new bands. Pandora CEO Joe Kennedy is advising the company, as is Mr. Gagosian.

Mr. Dorsey says the site will appeal to a tech-savvy generation that is beginning to invest in art. "Right now, you have an influx of younger folks who are looking to bridge what they're doing with sites like Twitter and Facebook and Foursquare and all these other companies with their other interests, which include art and paintings and drawings and sculpture," he says.

Collectors now seem increasingly prepared to spend big sums for art online. At Christie's, which offers real-time, online bidding at nearly all of its auctions, a Shang Dynasty wine vessel fetched $3.3 million in September, breaking the house record for an item purchased with an online bid. Last month, Saffronart, an online auction house dedicated to Indian art, sold a $2.2 million oil painting in pastel colors by Arpita Singh entitled "Wish Dream."

Where to Buy Art Online

  • VIP Art Fair will take place entirely online with work from nearly 140 galleries, Jan. 22-Jan 30.
  • 20x200 sells limited-edition prints ranging in price from $20 to $5,000.
  • Artnet, which provides a price database and research material on the art market, restarted its online auctions two years ago.
  •, set to launch in the spring, aims to match collectors with art based on their personal

A new wave of digital art ventures is launching as the art market begins to pick up steam again. Auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's sold more than $9 billion worth of art combined last year, nearly doubling their sales from the year before. Prices are climbing again for contemporary art, which fueled much of the art market's last boom before the recession hit.

Mark Vanmoerkerke, a private equity and real-estate investor in Oostende, Belgium, sees the Internet as the next logical step in an increasingly global art market. "Me, I'm in faraway Belgium and not everyone lives in New York or London, so I'm used to buying online," he says.

For dealers, a virtual art fair can be an appealing way to reach a broad audience at a fraction of the cost of participation in a traditional fair. Amid the economic downturn, some smaller galleries opted to sit out prestigious fairs like Art Basel Miami Beach, where booth rental costs range from $10,500 to $65,000. At the VIP Art Fair, set to run from Jan. 22 to Jan. 30, galleries have paid between $5,000 and $20,000 for virtual booths.

Because shipping costs to a booth won't be an issue, the Gagosian Gallery is plucking works from its outposts in Athens, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Rome and New York for the online fair. The gallery plans to offer items too unwieldy to bring to a physical fair, like a 17-foot-high aluminum sculpture by Franz West that looks like a giant pink string with a knot in it. Employees at Gagosian offices across the different time zones will be able keep the virtual booth staffed nearly around the clock.


A screenshot of a preview gallery at the VIP Art Fair.


On a recent afternoon in the offices of the VIP Art Fair, located four floors above the bustling flower district in Manhattan, Gagosian Gallery art dealer Cooke Maroney sat before a wide-screen computer and practiced setting up virtual private viewing rooms for elite clients at the fair. On his screen, a gray figure depicting a visitor at an art gallery appeared next to each piece of art, changing size to show the works at human scale.

To succeed, organizers say the online fair needs to walk a fine line between offering access to newcomers and exclusivity to collecting veterans. Participating galleries have sent invitations to their active clients, giving them instant-messaging privileges with dealers and potential access to a wider variety of works. The largest booths will publicly display 20 out of 100 works on offer; the rest they will show only to their best clients in private online viewing rooms. Visitors without invitations will be able to browse for free, but must pay $100 for a pass at the start of the fair to see price ranges for the works and interact with dealers through the site.

Buyers won't drag a painting into their virtual "shopping cart" or buy through PayPal; instead, they'll contact the dealers by instant message, email or phone to arrange a sale.

"It is still a world of high art, and there is an elitism that goes along with that," says James Cohan, a New York art dealer and the fair's co-creator. He and his wife, Jane, founded the fair with Internet entrepreneur Jonas Almgren and Mr. Almgren's wife, Alessandra.

David Zwirner, New York

David Zwirner plans to offer 'Haus des Lehrers' by Neo Rauch at VIP.

Mr. Cohan signed on the David Zwirner gallery last spring. He says he won over the gallery with a PowerPoint presentation that showed a mocked-up version of a David Zwirner virtual booth, complete with examples by the gallery's major artists. It included a massive painting by Luc Tuymans called "Ballroom," valued at more than $1 million, that depicts a mural of palm trees reflected on a highly polished floor. Mr. Cohan was soon en route to London, Berlin, Sydney, Tokyo and elsewhere to personally lobby dealers to come on board.

Mr. Vanmoerkerke, the collector, is drawn by the idea of not having to sprint through a sprawling venue to get to the best art first—a common sight at art fairs in the boom years. "Maybe online you won't need to be like Clint Eastwood with the fastest draw," he says.

One thing the online fair lacks, however: the electricity of art-world insiders gathered in one place and watching each other's next move. When Brad Pitt huddled with collectors Eli and Edythe Broad before buying a nearly $1 million painting by German artist Neo Rauch at Switzerland's Art Basel two years ago, for instance, he set the event abuzz.

"It'll be interesting to see how it does without all the air-kissing in the aisles that you get at other fairs," says Dennis Scholl, a Miami-based collector of contemporary art who received a VIP invitation to the fair and plans to check it out. "I don't know if they'll be able to recreate that energy. They might."

Some collectors still wrestle with the notion of buying a work they haven't seen up close. "There is so much out there to buy, why bother with something you can't see in person?" says London-based contemporary art collector Tiqui Atencio, an art-fair regular. She says she rarely purchases an artwork without personally inspecting it first, but she plans to browse at the VIP Art Fair.

Joseph O. Holmes and 20x200

'The Sledding Hill (Dusk)' by Joseph O. Holmes, above, is offered on


Tony Podesta, a Washington lobbyist and contemporary art collector, purchases up to a fifth of his art sight unseen, based on digital photos. But he's made some miscalculations. He and his wife are now living with a giant Campana Brothers couch made of stuffed animals that was far larger than they anticipated after viewing a JPEG of the image on an auction-house website. "I think we thought it was like a regular-size couch," he says. "It turned out to be a much more substantial creature."

Online art sales have followed a rocky path. Sotheby's launched an online auction site in 2000 to much fanfare. That year, the site sold an original copy of the Declaration of Independence to sitcom legend Norman Lear for $8.1 million. The sale seemed a promising omen for future online sales, but even then, there were signs of trouble: Lara Bergthold, the executive director of the Lear Family Foundation, was so worried about her spotty Internet connection that she flew from Los Angeles to New York to put in Mr. Lear's bid from a computer in a Sotheby's vice president's office.

Ultimately, Sotheby's struggled to convince sellers to consign their trophies to an online auction. In 2003 it ended its online sales venture at a loss of $100 million. Last year it began offering real-time online bidding for all its world-wide sales, and in December sold a $1.1 million platinum-and-diamond necklace to an online bidder in Asia.

Internet art database artnet closed its online auction business after two years in 2001 at a total loss of $11 million, says Bill Fine, president of artnet Worldwide, but about two years ago he restarted the auctions, believing that people now are more comfortable buying luxury goods online. He says the online auctions sold more than $12 million in art last year, though so far that venture has yet to turn a profit.

Art sites drawing a new generation of collectors focus on a carefully curated selection of lower-priced prints and photographs. Exhibition A, a recently launched online venture by New York art dealer Bill Powers, concentrates on contemporary prints. Another site, 20x200, founded in 2007 by New York dealer Jen Bekman, features photographers like William Wegman, known for his portraits of Weimaraners. Mr. Wegman attributes his strong online sales partly to the way his images look on a computer screen. "It's kind of luminous, in a way—it's very attractive, almost more than printed," he says.

Acquavella Galleries

Detail of Willem de Kooning's 'Woman." The work may be featured on in the spring.


Other entrepreneurs see potential in a model that's already being used to sell music. founder Carter Cleveland, a 24-year-old computer-science engineer whose art-obsessed father took him to galleries as a child, helped develop what he calls the "Art Genome," a mathematical framework using data provided by gallery professionals to help select new works for collectors based on their personal preferences. (One of's investor/advisers is Wendi Murdoch, the wife of Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp., which owns Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of The Wall Street Journal.) will include works at a range of prices, including some big-ticket items. One work that may be featured on the site is "Woman," an abstract shock of yellow, blue and red by Willem de Kooning, valued at more than $7 million, offered by Acquavella Galleries.

Ms. Zhukova, who is the companion of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, is both an investor in and the site's creative director. She says that until now online ventures haven't featured the best art. "In the past, the types of work available through online sales have been pieces that went unsold at exhibition," she wrote in an email. "Those portals aren't designed for discovering new artists or cultivating personal relationships with galleries."

Mr. Scholl, the Miami collector, isn't convinced that a computer model can predict an art lover's taste. "How can anyone tell you exactly how their head works when they look for art?" he says. "You collect via your subconscious, and it's hard to write an algorithm for that." He paused for a moment, then added, "The funny thing is, I use Pandora all the time."

Write to Ellen Gamerman at and Kelly Crow at for Lebanese Arts & Crafts is an E-Commerce concept aimed at helping regional and Lebanese artists and crafts-people showcase their unique artistic creations through an online plate-form and offer those creations for sale.

The name of achtART comes from the Phoenician goddess Ashtart or Astarté or عشتروت -…. It is also a combination of two words: “achat” + “art” = “buy art”.

If you are an artist interested in showcasing your work please contact on:

Do not forget to join their facebook fan page or twitter account to keep updated about achtART’s activities and invite your friends to spread the word.