Founded by Mohamad Al Hamoud and Annie Vartivarian, Letitia Gallery will focus on contemporary art that engages global concerns through the lens of local and international artists. “My passion for contemporary art has been developing over many years of fascination with both Middle Eastern and international artists,” says Vartivarian. Under the directorship of Artivarian, who collaborates with leading international curators, it will have a project-based model and exhibit four to five shows annually with an emphasis on the MENA region, including upcoming shows by artists such as Ahmed Badry, Alejandro Osping and Nathaniel Rackowe. “Beirut’s place in the contemporary art community is already very exciting and I want to contribute to it by bringing a wide variety of art and artists into my gallery. I look forward to creating a lively program of projects and exhibitions to enliven the already rapidly expanding interest in contemporary art in Beirut,” she adds.
For its inauguration, it will feature works by Eileen Cooper. Under the Same Moon will consist of past and new print and canvas pieces inspired by Beirut. “My new series which will be shown draws inspiration from Beirut’s position as a safe harbour and Lebanon’s history as a country with a depth of cultural heritage and rich natural beauty,” says Cooper. “After visiting Beirut, my first experience of the Middle East, I became intrigued by the ancient history, culture, mythology and landscape of Lebanon. On returning to my studio in London, I began reading about the culture and discovered how different civilisations influenced and merged together. I was looking for a new subject and began tentatively to make some drawings, this has very quickly developed into a meaningful project for me.”
Noting that Greek and Roman mythology have always moved her, Cooper delved into these elements within Lebanese history. “My new paintings feature, amongst other new imagery, the iconic Cedar tree which underpins so much of the history of Lebanon,” remarks Cooper. “I also worked from the ancient mosaics, and as often in my work, the universality of relationships and family feature strongly, as does the central female figure.” The new works will be paired alongside existing works, characterised by her magical realism technique, which have a noticeably feminist slant. “In one particular example, I strongly responded to the beautiful restored statue of a child, in the Beirut National Museum, which had been discovered in a sanctuary dedicated to the healing god Eshmun.”
“Eileen’s work represents a new approach to the Lebanese landscape,” explains Vartivarian. “Her paintings show a feminist perspective, exploring elegant links between the body, nature, and the cultural history of Lebanon.”