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Exploring Three Decades: Nadim Karam's Artistic Journey Through Conflict and Resilience

Lebanese architect and artist Nadim Karam explores the retrospective of his career over the previous thirty years in a newly opened exhibition, presenting a carefully chosen collection of drawings, paintings, and sculptures. Set within the Abroyan Factories, a renovated textile mill from the 1930s, the exhibition titled "Journal of Times | Journal of Present Times" traces Karam's artistic journey amidst various upheavals both within Lebanon and beyond. From the aftermath of the Civil War, the 2006 Lebanon War, and the mass displacements in the Middle East to recent events like the Covid-19 pandemic, the Lebanese economic downturn, and the tragic Beirut Port explosion of August 4, Karam's work encapsulates the spectrum of human experiences. Despite the ongoing crises, Karam emphasizes the importance of artistic expression and resilience in the face of adversity. He sees Beirut as a center of creativity and believes that amidst political turmoil, the city's creative endeavors can shape a brighter future for Lebanon.

Across a variety of mediums, Karam's artistic practice reflects his views and introspections about the world and is widely recognized for his tailored projects. Curator Nayla Tamraz explains that the exhibition serves as a chronicle of Karam's evolution as an artist, offering insights into his personal history often obscured by his monumental public works. Divided into five sections, the exhibition highlights different phases of Karam's artistic development, with key works such as "Massacre" acting as major themes that resonate with ideas of loss, brutality, and history.

Though occasionally contentious, Karam's work stimulates discussion on institutional, moral, and artistic grounds. For instance, his sculpture "The Gesture," erected at the site of the Beirut Port explosion, sparked debates on its appropriateness and symbolism. Despite potential controversies, Karam sees his art as a form of creative resistance and memorialization, channeling hope amidst despair.

While his work often engages with themes of conflict and suffering, Karam does not perceive it as a representation of negativity but rather as a catalyst for positive change. He believes in the power of creative resistance to inspire hope and renewal, especially in Lebanon's challenging times.

The exhibition "Journal of Times | Journal of Present Times" is on display until May 2 at Abroyan Factories in Lebanon.

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