The 8th edition of BEIRUT ART FAIR, organized in the continued support of Bankmed, drew to a close on Sunday, September 24 after four days of intense activity notably devoted to engagement and discovery in the modern and contemporary art of the Arab world.
The success of the fair was marked in terms of attendance – with 28,250 visitors in 2017 (compared to just over 23,000 in 2016) –and in the interest it drew from Lebanese and Middle Eastern collectors and art world personalities hailing from Beirut, Europe and the Middle East. Participating galleries registered an average increase in sales of 19% compared to last year, with 88% of galleries achieving sales, including a certain number who surpassed a turnover of more than $500,000.
Supported by an exceptional VIP program, BEIRUT ART FAIR continued to use greater selectivity in its choices, a decision which continued to pay dividends, with a marked increase in quality that supported the fair’s threefold mission: to foster a spirit of expansion and renewal, to promote the discovery of young talents, and to unfold a new perspective on the recent history of creation and collecting in Lebanon.
With 51 galleries from 23 countries representing 230 artists, the “Classic Section” of the fair brought together 35 exhibitors, while the “REVEALING BY SGBL” section, dedicated to the discovery of young talents, featured a group of 26 galleries, 16 of which were participating for the first time.
This year the fair was enriched by two impressive focus exhibitions: OUROUBA, THE EYE OF LEBANON from curator Rose Issa, dedicated to the notion of Arab identity represented in Lebanese collections from the past ten years, and LEBANON MODERN!, an exhibition devoted to Algerian artist Rachid Koraïchi’s recent illustrations for Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, an exhibit which showcased the fundamental humanist values that drive these two artists.
Photography also enjoyed pride of place at the 8th edition of BEIRUT ART FAIR. This year’s BYBLOS BANK AWARD program invited French photographer Aurelie Pétrel to conduct a workshop with two young Lebanese photographers: Yara Bsaibes and Joe Ghanem, the latter of whom was the winner of this 6th edition of the prize.
“Bravo for this edition, which was highly successful in terms of the quality of exhibitors present, the scenography, and the general atmosphere. The exhibition OUROUBA, THE EYE OF LEBANON was particularly successful.”
–Caroline Schuermans, Boghossian Foundation – Villa Empain, Brussels, Belgium
“BEIRUT ART FAIR is a political fair breaking the taboos of the Arab world. This fair has a future.”
–Esther Woerdehoff, Esther Woerdehoff Gallery, Paris, France
“Great attendance. The VIP program was filled with interesting events and was an excellent occasion to forge relationships.”
–Dominique Fiat, Galerie Dominique Fiat, Paris, France
“Bravo! The team was extremely helpful and kind. Our top five works were sold.”
Hajer Azzouz, La Maison de la plage, Tunis, Tunisia
“BEIRUT ART FAIR has the will to galvanize this city, to put it on the cultural map.”
–Pierre El Khoury, Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris, France
“Excellent communication; we had a lot of visitors. A mix of galleries that one doesn’t find in other fairs, and a real interest in the art on the part of collectors.”
–Sabine Bayasli, Galerie Detais, Paris, France
“It was a real fair: energy, sales, and an enthusiastic public.”
–Cecilia Lobel, LB Contemporary, Barcelona, Spain
“Fantastic! Excellent welcome; we are proud to have collaborated with BEIRUT ART FAIR. The high level of the fair put it on a level with other more well-known and publicized fairs.”
-Jonathan Kugel, Art Sablon, Brussels, Belgium
“Excellent organization; we had a lot of visitors.”
–Alexis Rastel, Archiraar Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
“I really hope you would like to have us back next year.”
–Barbara Polla, Analix Forever Gallery, Geneva, Switzerland