Beirut, I Love you
Tears and Beer mixed media on plastic 23x15 cm
American Dreams mixed media on wood 25x25 cm
Boys With Toys II mixed media on board 30x25cm
Big n'Tall neocolor on photocopy 39x30 cm
Guns and Roses mixed media on plastic 20x22 cm
Evolve neo color on photocopy 30x39 cm
Homeless Roses mixed media on wood 25x25 cm
I Love You mixed media on wood 25x25 cm
Lucky Home neo color on photo 39x30 cm
Opposite the Blue Dragon neo color on photocopy 39x30 cm
Pretty in Pink mixed media on cardboard 22x18 cm
Passionate in Purple mixed media on wood 25x25 cm
Roaming Teta mixed media on wood 25x25 cm
Screaming in Sodeco mixed media on wood 25x25 cm
Shopping for Terrorism mixed media on wood 25x25 cm
Sketches for Militia Magenta II mixed media on paper 41x52 cm
Texas Ranger mixed media on plastic 23x15 cm
The Thrill of the Kill mixed media on plastic 15x23 cm
Zebra Crossing neo color on photocopy 30x39 cm
I Love You: Mixed Media
painting - mixed media
Imagine standing outside the monumental sky scraper S Dagher building, in the backstreets of Gemmayzeh, facing old buildings, the ones that have survived the war, and barely surviving the reconstruction of post Lebanese culture and architectural “reform”. From a distance, you can see this, and from a distance you hear stiletto heels, squeaky new leather shoes, old worn out sneaker soles, and air-sole cushioned sandals approaching the bottom of the staircase, taking one step at a time, heading towards the sliding doors. Behind these doors, is the destination all these different foot-wear carrying the people that wear them are headed to; these people of different generations, with different faiths, with different fates and different destinations in life. For now, they are all headed towards one place, and that place is Zena el Khalil’s art exhibit entitled “i love you”. You hear them in a combined effort of mixing different languages just to ask one another “i love you, here?”, you hear them in linguistics state to one another, “i love you, here”. But if only they knew that they would soon be barefoot, already naked in professing love to one another, they will soon all be barefoot, because at the end of the gallery is a sacred ground, with a handwritten sign asking them to “please remove your shoes”.
The installation space is warm and inviting, but if you sit in there long enough you might just lose your mind. You might just get overwhelmed. Ziad Rahbani’s compositions playing in the background to the figure of Mary holding a baby Jesus center stage, Zena el Khalil style. Soft pink human-sized figures hanging from the walls, lifeless and dismantled but adorned in jewelry and party hats. Assemblage in boxes ranging from men worshiped as God, to women worshiped just as that, and as the artist states “it is no longer about right and wrong”. Provocative, and controversial, yet not the artist’s purpose, these iconic boxes are all so pretty, and ever so delicately prepared. Icons in boxes, living a full life as only icons do, and Zena is celebrating this for each and every one of us.
Hanging from the ceiling is an “Allah” disco ball, no negative connotations made but merely a source of light, with mirrors flickering light on all the objects in the room, including your face as you stand there taking it all in.
You leave, but you’re not gone. You’re never “gone” when you’ve interacted with Zena el Khalil, and her work. You have left your mark as every person that walked into the installation piece has done. You have left your mark on Zena who would like to emphasize this by telling you that “In short I love you. I love each and every one of you”.
- Halleh Founouni, Beirut 2006
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