The Third Eye

16 October '09

By Sehr Sarwar

Moments from the premature Christmas lights of Oxford Street, tucked away on Maddox Street is The Selma Feriani Gallery; the chosen venue for a group exhibition of contemporary Lebanese artists titled “The Third Eye.” As the Arab British Centre was supporting the event, I headed down on Thursday night for the preview to see just what this young generation of Lebanese artists had to offer.

The gallery was smaller than expected and unfortunately perhaps a little intimate for the works on display. It was great to see different media on show in an intimate space but with the well-heeled and discerning London W1 crowd packed into the gallery, the work was sometimes lost or made harder to appreciate. The exhibition featured an interactive installation piece, photography, video and even supporting poetry.

The title of the exhibition, “The Third Eye”, is a phrase coined by Lebanese art activist and curator Christine Tohme and refers to an artistic awareness of Lebanon in contemporary cultural transition. The unique works tackled the theme of societal change in the homeland from the artists’ personal and wonderfully varied perspectives. Rather than a photographic bombardment of war and conflict, some of the interpretations were hard-hitting in a most imaginative manner.

My personal favourite was Lina Hakim’s intricate piece, ‘Binayat Beirut’, a modified book installation. The quaint piece features a delicate design of Hassan Daoud’s book ‘Binayat Mathilde’ which tells of residents in a Beirut apartment building during the war and their creative use of space. Hakim has used the pages of the book to form a haphazard cityscape structure with small lights and bricks to create a highly distinctive display. It seems ironic that the message of space on the milieu was being explored in this work when it was ultimately the space constraints of the gallery that prevented Lina’s display from being viewed clearly.

The artists exhibiting as part of the “The Third Eye” was a collection of video artist, photographer and installation artist. It is inevitable that when such a great variety of minds come together, the result is to be well received.
The exhibition continues until December 5th, 2009.

Overheard on the night:
“Why didn’t I get any berries in my bubbly?”
”I have to admit I feel slightly uncomfortable standing in front of this work.”
”Well, one of my mother’s paintings is actually hanging in Buckingham Palace.”