The casual observer might think Lebanese film producer Sylvio Tabet’s greatest contribution to the art world came in the form of Beastmaster: the story of a shirtless hero in a metallic speedo who, with the aid of his pet ferrets, manages to save a scantily clad woman from the grip of some mystical evil villain. In the film’s epic trailer from 1982, the narrator urges the audience to “discover the link between man, animal and all that is phantasmagorical.”

But there’s more to Sylvio Tabet than the trash-tastic 1980s fantasy film and TV series that solidified a place for him in American pop culture and the stuff of Hollywood legends. Not only is he a producer, but a director of over 400 commercials, a photographer, author, real estate entrepreneur and all-around life explorer. The last time he was in Beirut was 25 years ago. But now he’s back, making his entrance with a commanding and colorful exhibit at the Espace Kettaneh Kunigk gallery in Clemenceau called, Suspended Reality.

The exhibit is dominated by neon tints and glossy prints of mannequins and motorcycles. “I chose bikes because they are symbols of virility and manhood and when I used to live in Lebanon I was obsessed with cowboys, going to the movies and everything. In America, the motorcycle has replaced the horse,” Tabet told Beirut.com at the show’s opening on November 7.

When asked if the motorcycle served as an additional metaphor for the artist’s own personality and demeanor, Tabet’s face lit up with a perfectly white-toothed smile and he laughed: “What do you think”? As for the mannequin prints, Tabet believes they “have a sort of life. Don’t you feel like he’s looking at you? He’s spooky, but it attracts you.”

Another unconventional piece in the exhibit features two different Los Angeles billboards advertising the release of the Hulk and Batman films, photographed in 2003 and 2008, respectively. “They inspire sentimental feelings,” says Tabet, adding, “When I was a kid, I was raised with the Hulk and Batman, so I have a special sensitivity for this because it reminds me of my childhood.”

More than an artist, Sylvio Tabet is a man who continually seeks to improve every aspect of his life – body, mind and soul. “I travel a lot,” he told Beirut.com. “I like adventure. I went to Nepal to play polo on an elephant. Soon, I’m going to the famous Kumbh Mela which is a gathering of 180,000 yogis and around 60 million pilgrims [at the river Ganges in India]. I like the company of beautiful people inside and out... I was married a few times, fortunately or unfortunately. And that's it.”

Tabet professes true passion when he talks about his work; really, it feels as if he's never worked a day in his whole life. "Do what you love, that’s the most important thing," he tells Beirut.com. Just do what you love and persevere. That’s it. Otherwise you won’t be happy and it’s not always a question of money. But when you do what you love, you’re healthier and you make money."

The Suspended Reality exhibit runs until December 7. For more information, click here.

Articles & Media

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Past Events

Suspended Reality at Espace... Exhibition (Photography)
Atelier Sylvio Tabet Pre-Opening Gathering (Opening)
 

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