Tuesday, December 31, 2013

An Introduction to Street Art in Beirut, Lebanon

Yazan Halwani and TASSO from Germany
Graffiti saw its beginnings in Lebanon during a 15-year long Civil War, which struck the country in 1975. Stencil art and graffiti became a tool of propaganda for the militias, and also highlighted the county’s sectarian divide.

Street art in Lebanon has since evolved with new styles and techniques emerging such as Calligraffti, wheat-pastes, and public interventions.
Although politically driven street art is still around, most of the art these days places huge emphasis on aesthetics. This is the first look into the new street art scene taking over Beirut today, starting with Calligraphy.

Yazan Halwani is young Lebanese graffiti artist who started painting five years ago. At the age of 19, he’s probably on the youngest street artists in the town.
His work is blends Arabic graffiti with Arabic calligraphy in a style dubbed Calligraffiti. This style of writing is rapidly becoming extra popular in the region with famed artists like El Seed or A1one.

Halwani’s large scale murals are often tributes to Beirut legends. One of his most striking pieces honors Ali, a homeless man, better known as “the legend of Bliss Street,” who recently passed away. The piece brings to light the issue of the displaced in Beirut, urging residents to make a difference.

Another emerging Lebanese street artist is Ali Rafei, whose work blends Calligraffiti, stencils, and wheat pastes.
He says, “My duty as a street artist is to tell the truth and shed light on subjects no one talks about.” Rafei recently collaborated with Yazan Hawani and French street artist Zepha1 on a mural titled "The Revolution Within Yourself."

Graffiti artists and identical twins Mohamed and Omar Kabbani of Ashekman started as a hip-hop group around the same time they got into graffiti. An urban wear line under the same name soon followed, turning the name into a brand. Their style combines Arabic graffiti with urban graphics and calligraphy.

With the emergence of new styles, street art in Beirut will only continue to get stronger and better, with artists like these inspiring a new wave of urban artists to come.

Let us know which is your favourite Beirut's artist and then check back with us soon for more exclusive coverage of the street art scene in the Middle-East.

Yazan Halwani - Portrait of Ali
Beirut - Fairouz by Ashekman
Ali Rafei - Yazan Halwani - Zepha 1
Ali Rafei
Ali Rafei
Yazan Halwani



Wadih El Safi Tribute by Ashekman