“Colors of an Old Beirut.” is a vibrant and lively digital painting that makes you feel as if you are in the thick of old-time Lebanese folk culture. It features a colorful palette, traditional village furnishings, lively children, and even the occasional nod to Lebanese music. This is the third installment of the “Sportbooks oftexas: A Travel Guide to Pit Bulls and Lebanese Horses” series, featuring old photographs alongside new ones.
“Colors of an old Beirut.” centers on two major events in Lebanese history: the takeover of the seat of power by the Forces of nature (backed by France) and the rise of Lebanese resistance to foreign rule, especially French invasion. The painting recreates scenes from everyday life in both places: the streets of downtown Beirut and the busy bazaars and squares of the old city of Taizz. “Colors of an old Beirut,” like the first two installments, showcases a large number of different subjects (cityscapes, portraits, outdoor scenes, etc. ), but in this case it’s clear which place is the subject and which one is the background.
“The Reflection of Youth in Taizz and Beirut.” centers on a younger generation of Beirut and takes its cue from contemporary Russian art to present young urban rebels in the streets of Taizz and Beirut. The subject is the clashes between radicalism and establishment authority, which in Russia is symbolized by the Fontana Law and in Egypt by the revolutionary wave that followed the toppling of the former regime of General Muhammad el-Hassan. The visual collage is therefore filled with symbolic references, most notably those in Egyptian and Russian art from famous artists like Khatchaturian and Pushkin.
The third installment of the Art and the Flag of UFA showcases the cultural diversity of the republic. The painting reproduces a painting by Vasili Oreshkin entitled “Naples Cathedral” but adds a modern touch with the addition of a flying saucer and flags of the Russian Federation and the Belaya Republic. The colors of the flag of Belaya, which includes white, green and red, perfectly match those used by the painter in his painting, while the colors of the Russian Federation’s flag are much more streamlined and less stylized. The painting is therefore a perfect complement to the first two.
From the third point of view, UFA is a fine example of how a new republic can develop without upsetting the established order. Though the depiction of the marketplace in downtown Beirut may seem an obvious anachronism, the placement of the administrative districts in the two paintings clearly shows the de facto division of Beirut into lower and upper circles. The red circles in the Russian painting subtly indicate the Christian and Muslim halves of the city, while the green and white squares in the Oktyabera Nasrallah depict the Shiites and Alawi, the Druze. The inclusion of Passerette and Safer City in the second painting gives the impression that both Christian and Muslim neighborhoods enjoy equal privileges within the borders of Belaya. As a matter of fact, the representation of the religious communities in this way is a very popular trend in contemporary art, particularly in Lebanese art.
All the three paintings from the above series show great skill by the famous Russian artist Vasili Oreshkin, who along with other Russian expatriates became the most important and influential Russian artists of the post-Stalin era. Although most of Oreshkin’s work was focused on architecture and building, he did contribute a lot to the field of photography and became a leading figure among Russian artists who specialized in works inspired by nature and rural life. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, he remained in touch with Russian officials and worked hard to facilitate access for his many fans in the West.