Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Erotic Art In Beirut

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

A new exhibition in Beirut featuring paintings with an erotic theme has opened to mixed reactions, in a society where sex is still very much taboo:
Two women painters in Lebanon are pushing the boundaries with a new exhibition called "Erotika," in which their depictions of female sexuality have sparked mixed reactions.

Using vivid colors, the pair are showing images of fetishism, homosexuality and even masturbation in a Beirut art show they hope will help to break taboos in the usually conservative Arab world. Artists Nayla Karam and Maria Sarkis are displaying their Warhol-like pop art in a joint exhibition at a Beirut gallery.
The end of the article offers reactions from people who visited the exhibit, which are interesting to read. This would never have taken place in another Arab country without starting a much bigger controversy:
The exhibition has triggered conflicting reactions among visitors.

Dana Dennawi, a 22-year-old student at the Arab University in Beirut, called the paintings "beautiful, without even a hint of vulgarity."

"There is no harm in representing the different forms of sexual expression," she said.

Leon Khanamirian, a 25-year-old banker, said that "in the Middle East, men are allowed to express their sexual fantasies in a vulgar manner, but when (women) artists paint sexuality, it suddenly becomes a scandal."

Hassan Mekdad, 52, called the paintings shocking, however.

"The artists would have been killed if they lived in an Islamic neighborhood," he said.

Abdallah Dadur, owner of the "Surface" gallery that is staging the exhibition, said he was "proud of these young people who are expressing themselves without any complexes.

"Once more, the Lebanese are at the forefront of moral freedoms in the Arab world."(AFP)

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