On May 8, Fransabank launched the 9th edition of its JABAL exhibition at Hotel Le Gray to great success, with 18 of the 25 artists having sold their artwork during the launching event alone.
But one artist's work - which appears in JABAL's official catalogue - never made it to the actual exhibit. Mhammad Saad's Farewell Beirut depicts Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah (in addition to various other Lebanese politicians, including former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea among others) as a character in one of Michelangelo's most renowned works, The Creation of Adam. As for the entire painting, Saad's work is a homage to a total of six different paintings: The Third of May 1808 by Francisco Goya, Raft of the Medusa by Theodore Gericault, the already-mentioned Creation of Adam by Michelangelo, The Deposition by Raphael, The Anatomy Lesson by Rembrandt and Dogs Fighting by Frans Snyders.
Saad, winner of the Jury’s Prize last year at the 31st Salon D’Automne for his painting Alleluia often conveys notions of politics in sarcastic or puppet-like environments in his work.
The artist told Beirut.com that his Farewell Beirut painting was removed from the exhibit just two days before the show opened because members of the Le Gray administration asked for it to be taken down.
The artist maintains that this particular work "isn’t disrespectful in any way to any leader," explaining that "the image is a contemporary [take] on many internationally renowned paintings in the history of art... [and expresses] the ongoing conflict between the different Lebanese parties and its impact on society with a sarcastic twist. This is my newest creation and I was looking for a decent, respectful and established place to exhibit it."
Meanwhile, Ms. Zeina Antonios, the spokesperson for JABAL, told Beirut.com the reason Mhamad’s piece was pulled from the exhibit was that it was "too expensive for the show," and that they had to replace him with someone else at the last minute.
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JABAL 2013 at Le Gray Hotel Exhibition (Sculpture, Painting & Drawing, Film, Photography, Art, Design)