Walking into Waraq Art space is an experience within itself, let alone walking into it during an exhibit. Waraq, located near the heart of Tripoli by BenAshour, is an underground sort of headquarters for artists and art-appreciators where countless art workshops have taken place, and recently a Van Gogh day on the anniversary of the artist.
Most recently though, Waraq was the home to an art exhibit titled “Inthaar / Warning”. As I walked into the exhibit for the first time I could tell that this was not an escapist exhibit, Neither the artwork, not the atmosphere were meant to transform you anywhere, but to reinstate the lack of stability, the looming possibility of a war, and the after effects of the previous one. I later found out that the poster for the exhibit (Created by the graphic artist Alla Buddabous) was inspired by Picasso’s Guernica, a painting Picasso created as a response to the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish civil war ( A 7.76 meter wide black and white painting hailed as one of the most powerful anti-war painting ever made) .
The lighting of the venue transformed from that its usual white into a hazardous red highlighting the warning signs that were plastered across the exhibit made for an eerie atmosphere, an almost discomfort that left you feeling slightly disturbed. Although some of the art is humorous (The caricatures created by Suhaib Tantoush) the rest were either disturbing or morose, many left me squirming in my place.
Some of which caught my attention were a graphic piece designed by Razan Alnaas, an image of an elderly man on a background of cash notes with the words “Kidnapped and yet to return” printed under in Arabic illustrating the grim reality Libyans face nowadays with the countless kidnappings and the hefty ransom orders that for many are simply impossible to pay off.
Ziad’s art approaches the theme of the gallery in what may seem like an optimistic manner with its bright colors and minimalistic illustrations, his contribution half blue, half red, representing the two genders and their roles in today’s Libya. Where he shows the male half in a sea of violence, and gives the female the benefit of escape, of living in an isolation of what is taking place, although to disagree with Ziad, women are just as much in the midst of the violence as the men, we however find better ways to live in the seclusion society is only too happy to hand to us.
A full wall of Photography took over the exhibit. The photographers Mohammed Almehdewi, Nada Harib, and Nazeeh Mghedir work simply reinforced what was being symbolically conveyed by the other artists, sort of photographic evidence.
A collection which did stick out was the Children of Wars, inspired by what I can only assume is the Star wars saga (or maybe Star Trek, I can never tell the difference) demonstrating the effects of war playing a large part in the upbringing of a whole generation.
This exhibit is a small testimony as to what young people in Libya can achieve despite the effects of war, or perhaps even with them, as we can’t deny that we owe a large part of our resilience, innovation, and optimism to the hard circumstances we have been thrown in.
Enough of my excessive babbling, I will leave you with these photographs, and don’t forget to leave your comments down below :)!