Tuesday, May 10, 2016

On the virtual national museum of modern art

Reincarnation - Jamil Molaeb (1981)
I am not going to address the silly gimmick of an advertising campaign the ministry came up with to promote this effort. I already did, and that was a stupid campaign (and that's an understatement in terms of description).
They say "a horse drawn by a committee is a camel" and perhaps this is what happened with the virtual national museum of modern art. It is, although an interesting initiative, too confusing - for obviously there has been too many opinions which were accounted for.
The website is stiff, not very cooperative, exceptionally convoluted (when you enter into an artist's work there's no way to be out of it as the opened window does not close, when you do the virtual tour you get stuck going back to the same previous chamber as you lose direction, when you look for the archive it s impossible to find anything, etc....).
I think the website represents what the internet used to be, and does not offer any esthetic prouesse (full disclosure, I discovered that my own uncle Elias Abou Rizk was among the roster of artists exhibited there).
But for all the negative points, I loved the art - maybe it is not the most representative of the artists' work, maybe some are seen more prominently than others, maybe some more extensively - but there's no denying the beauty of some of the works, the emotions that burst out of some of them (Helen El Khal is breathtaking); the small gems which we did not know about (another disclosure, I grew up seeing a lot of art at my late uncle Joseph Abou Rizk's house - a prominent critic and a former member of the ministry - so, many of the works were either known to me or their style familiar).
The display could be considered confusing and odd, but even if one visits the best of museums there's always this element of incoherence which the curator thought was logic, and then you see this incredible masterpiece, no mater what size it is and the outing would have been worth it.
To be fair, the texts - whereas they contain sometimes omissions (ex: since the year - but not year is stated!) are relatively well-written without too much pompousness (perhaps they are drawn from the artists' own CVs). And as I said before, the website is not a technical wonder, but with all this in mind, I enjoyed my visit mainly because I love the art that is exposed. These were incredible artists, many of them worked throughout the war (Laure Ghorayeb or Jamil Molaeb for instance) and the product is too beautiful for words at times.

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