Journey into Hope and Dystopia: New Contemporary Arab Art Exhibition at Beirut’s Dalloul Art Foundation

New Exhibition at Beirut’s Dalloul Art Foundation Explores Hope and Dystopia through Contemporary Arab Art.

Circling Drones (Iraq), From a Feast in the Ruins Series, 2022, Johanne Allard

From May to August 15, 2024, the Dalloul Art Foundation in Beirut will present “Hope in an Age of Dystopia,” an exhibition showcasing sixty-six recent acquisitions of contemporary Arab art. This exhibition provides a compelling look at the state of our world through the eyes of a younger generation of regional artists. These acquisitions offer insight into Basel Dalloul’s vision for evolving the Foundation’s collection.

Installation view of Hope in an Age of Dystopia at the Dalloul Art Foundation

Featured artworks include:

Selim Mawad’s (Lebanon) satirical pieces critically examine Lebanese politics and society, addressing issues such as brain drain and the tragic Beirut explosion while condemning the country’s political landscape and its mishandling of infrastructure and economic challenges.

Amer Shomali’s (Palestine) “Broken Weddings” reconstructs traditional patterns of Palestinian brides’ wedding dresses (thobe) left behind during the 1948 Nakba.

Hady Sy’s (Lebanon) “The Zeros” replaces George Washington’s image on the one-dollar bill with an illustration of 9th-century polymath Al Khawarsimi, the Father of Algebra.

Aliaa Elgready’s (Egypt) works reconsider our relationship with the natural world, urging us to see it as a complete entity worthy of understanding beyond our need to exploit it.

Johanne Allard’s (Lebanon/Canada) “A Feast in the Ruins,” a series of embroidered pieces highlighting systematic attacks on the Levant and Arab regions.

Installation view of Hope in an Age of Dystopia at the Dalloul Art Foundation – courtesy of DAF

“Hope in an Age of Dystopia” features works that engage in dialogue, exploring the dystopian realities of our world while prompting us to envision a different future. Many of the artworks are vibrant in form but often bleak in content. Some sharply critique our current social and economic conditions with wit, while others invite us to join in the humour. All pieces engage with a dystopian reality marked by the constraints of various control systems. However, true to the dystopian genre, the aim is not to foster despair but to inspire visions of a better future.

Selim Mawad (Lebanon) offers a critical commentary on Lebanese politics and society through his works, highlighting Lebanese society’s tropes and shared sufferings. He addresses issues such as brain drain and the recent Beirut explosion, condemning the political landscape and its mishandling of infrastructure and economic challenges.

On a global scale, Hady Sy (Lebanon) critiques the pervasive influence of numbers and money. His “Sifr/Zero” (2014) series underscores the abstract nature of numerical values and their impact on our lives. In the “Al Khawarismi” (2015) pieces, Sy replaces George Washington’s image with an illustration of Al Khawarismi, the 9th-century Baghdad-based polymath known as the father of algebra, paying homage to his contributions to modern mathematics and the establishment of zero as a numerical placeholder.

“Hope in an Age of Dystopia” invites viewers to imagine alternative modes of resistance. It encourages them to confront reality without succumbing to nihilistic despair. This perspective is often reflected in the choice of colour and material, where the works’ bright vibrancy contrasts with the starkness of the content.

Wheat, 2021, Selim Mawad

About the Dalloul Art Foundation:
The Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation (DAF) is a Lebanon-based arts institution
dedicated to preserving and showcasing modern and contemporary Arab art.
Established in 2017 by Dr Basel Dalloul, the foundation’s roots trace back to his late parents, Dr
Ramzi Dalloul and Saeda al-Husseini, who started collecting art in the early 1970s. They
purchased art they loved, created by artists with whom they had formed personal connections
over the years. Viewing artists as “the keepers of truth and archivists of history”, they acquired
a collection of nearly 3,000 pieces, showcasing the diversity of modern and contemporary
Arab art. The collection was initiated as “a labour of love”, which Dr Basel has the honour of

The exhibition on view until 15 August 2024