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Opening of the Exhibition “Shifting Lights” at Beit Beirut

The opening of the exhibition “Shifting Lights” was held yesterday at Beit Beirut in the presence of the participating artists Afaf Zurayk, Noel Nasr and Rami Saab, and art lovers.


“Shifting Lights” explores the intricate relationship between a painter Afaf Zurayk and a photographer Noel Nasr as expressed through the vision of an architect Rami Saab. Three artists invite viewers to become participants in a conversation that explores their experiences of turbulence in Lebanon and the region. With nuanced shifting of light and space, both physical and emotive, their contemplative discourse comes to life through nine structures that layer presence and memory, oscillating between reality and aspiration.

“Shifting Lights” is an expression that recognizes that no two moments are alike, and that there is no constant light. It is a work that contains its own contradictions and hangs in the balance between darkness and light. It conceives of darkness as a bridge to understanding rather than a barrier, and light as a catalyst that guides participants inwards. When light shifts, so do layers unveil, and unlearning begins.


The exhibition comprises nine cylindrical structures, each with a painting on the inside, enveloped by a photograph on the outside. We move through darkness to light and experience an intimate conversation between painting, photograph, structure and surrounding space. As we move between the seemingly translucent structures, we wander through a forest where light is elusive. Both together and alone, we confront our solitude in search of our deepest self. Once within, both structure and self, our humanity begins to unfold in all of its complexity as we ask: “Why?”


In their intensity and depth of questioning, Afaf Zurayk’s portraits, encapsulate a lifetime of searching for redemption from the personal and collective exposure to violence. Through them, Afaf unapologetically asks: What have we become? Where is our humanity? To her, the portraits are presences that both confront and immerse the viewer in the experience of the painting as canvas, and in the understanding of the personal and human narrative behind each painting. She adds “The artist and the viewer, the questioner and the questioned, become one. As collective confrontation makes way for individual responses, we are left to face our conscience.”


Noel Nasr uses the lens of the camera to deconstruct the process of mark making in Afaf’s paintings. He recreates these marks in compositions that themselves become parallel commentaries on our life, humanity, experiences of war, and turbulence. Like a forensic scientist searching for clues, Noel scrutinizes the paintings’ surfaces, revealing latent images immersed between paint and canvas. Challenging the camera to enter the depth of the painting, Noel begins to decode Afaf’s syntax: the negative and the positive, the recto and the verso, the light and the dark are materialized into three-dimensional photographs that refract her haunting search.


To Rami Saab, the installation is inspired by strokes recovered from Afaf’s paintings and projected into space. Following Noel’s photographs forming the outer translucent walls of each structure, viewers, now as participants, move inwards and outwards, treading physically and emotively between the personal and the collective.


“Shifting Lights” exhibition runs until Tuesday January 2nd, 2018 at Beit Beirut (Sodeco, Independence Street, Elias Sarkis Avenue). It is open to the public Monday till Saturday, from 11:00 am till 8:00 pm, and on Sundays from 12:00 pm till 6:00 pm.

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