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Home » Libya » Joint Communique on Libya

November 2012 

One of the images at the exhibition: Farshyia acrylic on canvas by Najla Shawket Fitouri

During the 2011 uprising Libyans didn’t just fight with guns and risk their lives, they also expressed themselves through the arts. This art has been brought to London by two Libyan women Najlaa El-Ageli and Nessrin Gebreel whose mission is to bring it to international attention.

Their first project of Noon Arts is an ambitious week-long London exhibition The Libyan supported by the British Council that features the work of eight artists at the Arab British Centre from November 22 to 30.

It is an exhibition of painting, short film, photography, sculpture and installation art. The work is as varied as its creators men and women aged between 24 – 67. Although the themes of the art works are intense, sometimes morbid, sometimes tragic, the colours are bright and the message is one of hope.

A penetrating flash of insight into life in Libya iss created. A short film tells the story of an old woman who described baking bread during the 30 days of Ramadan. There were problems due to the frequent power cuts. The woman is happy Muammar has died.

“We were smothered by him.” She learnt to sew and was sewing revolutionary flags and giving them to the children. “These flags removed the pain from our hearts,” she said with conviction and a non arrogant pride that she was helping the revolution.

Faten Baaba a self-taught photographer who was very active during the revolution working with various NGO’s including the International Institute for Democracy and electoral Assistance (IDEA) captures the subtle, the unusual and the surreal: the Ghadamis Festival, the Italian cemetery, the traditional doors in the old city in Tripoli.

Yousef Fetix, through his colourful painting Hanging, shows that there is beauty in horror. He was the Director of the Art House in Tripoli from 1993 to 1998 and later spent time in France where he researched the subject of the artistic interpretation of the human body.

One of the post striking photos is of the Magic Hour Gharyan by Naziha Arebi who has captured the intense interaction between the generations: an old woman who looks lovingly at a young girl, sharing her knowledge and wisdom with the child.

Born to a Libyan father and English mother Arebi grew up in Hastings in the United Kingdom and gained a Masters in Screen from the Central Saint Martin’s College of Art. Upon graduating she moved to Libya to discover her father’s distant homeland and explore the country’s depths, people and culture.

As an artist Mohammed Albadri has a wide remit that includes painting, photography, animation, illustration and film. For his paintings he uses experimental techniques with coffee, acrylic and glass paint on paper. For photography he uses ink water.

One of the most unusual exhibits was an installation by Hadia Gana that covered the wooden floor of the Arab British Centre with symbols in white paint and objects suggesting the remnants of war and loss. Gana was involved with the redesign of the Libyan pavilion at the 2010 Shanghia Expo and is currently creating the Ali Gana Centre for Arts and Crafts in Libya that will create art space and studios for craftsmen and artists to work, teach and discuss freely.

She also wants to create the Ali Gana Museum in memory of her late father.

During the February 17 revolution Mohammad Bin Lamin was imprisoned for several months at the infamous Abu Salim prison where he drew on the walls, made faces on silver tin foil and created sculptures from bullets, shells and other recycled war materials. His sculptures of iron and discarded metal and scarp metal and wood are lean, haunted figures which include two sculptures: mother and child in orbit.

Regardless of their medium of expression or choice of subject Libyan artists are finally able to explore, express and expose without fear of censure or reprisals.

In its mission statement, Noon Arts explains that it strives to bring the very best of Libyan Art to the world stage. “Our ongoing mission is to spot, encourage and nurture both new and established Libyan artists and to celebrate their work in all its myriad forms.

“From painting to photography, film, sculpture and installation art, we are drawing from a deep pool of local talent whose work has hardly been shown and never been properly credited up until now.

“With planned exhibitions, mainly in partnership with contemporary galleries and museums, events and other projects, we are here to support and help our talented Libyan artists, by marketing their work and offering them an international platform to further their careers.”

Noon as a project was inspired in April 2012, when Najlaa El-Ageli was strolling around a basic art exhibition held as part of the Tripoli Fair. “I was impressed and mesmerised by the rich quality of the work and realised it had to be brought to the international stage.

“Libya’s arts have also existed for thousands of years. The first cave paintings are in the southern mountains and still on display. History has also kindly brushed Libya’s cultural fabric with strokes from the ancient Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, Berber, Amazigh, Arab, Jewish, African as well as Italian lines, colours and influences.

“Now, Libya’s rich artistic scene can finally be delivered and given the credit it deserves, with all of its rawness, vibrancy and beauty.”

Co-founder of Noon, Nessrin Gebreel was estranged from Libya for over 30 years. “It is during this new era of liberty and rebirth of the country that I am rediscovering my birthplace. Mostly, I am proud of the quality, energy and purity of the artwork we came across.

“Libya is fascinating in its diversity and rich culture. It is also bursting with electric potential that excites me professionally and personally, as my career is about identifying talent, nurturing creativity and driving it towards commercial success.

“I see Noon as an opportunity for myself and the world to learn more about Libya, its contemporary art and the creative hub that is waiting to show off itself and gain the recognition it truly deserves.”

The Eight artists at The Libyan :
Yousef Fetis (painter)
Mohammed Albadri (artist)
Faten Baaba (photographer)
Naziha Arebi, (filmmaker/photographer)
Hadia Gana, (installation artist/sculptor)
Mohammed Bin Lamin (artist)
Najla Shawket Fitouri (painter)
Muktar Alshrief (painter)

Source: Tripoli Post 


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