Opening: January 14, 2016 from 7pm to 9pm
When: January 14 – May 7, 2016. Monday to Friday 11am to 6pm; Saturday 11am to 4pm
Where: Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut

BEIRUT- Sfeir-Semler Gallery begins the year with Marwan Rechmaoui’s second solo show at the gallery Fortress in a Corner, Bishop Takes Over, opening on Thursday January 14, 2016.

Deriving inspiration from the geography and complex multi-cultural history of Beirut, Rechmaoui’s work often reflects themes of urbanization and contemporary social and behavioral demographics. The city, with its familiarities and local anecdotes, becomes a multidisciplinary space for dialogue between architecture, urban planning, political economics, sociology, and history.

The gallery will debut a new project by the artist. In this new work, Blazon, the artist’s initial attempt to predict the new demarcation lines of Beirut after the civil war, evolves into a speculative inspection of the written and oral histories of Beirut’s neighborhood districts. Applying the traditional practices of blazonry, Rechmaoui creates a coat of arms and banners corresponding to each district in the city. The entirety of the gallery space is taken over by more than 400 flags and 59 shields, referring to each neighborhood and sector respectively. He thus creates a fascinating game of attack and retreat, of withdrawal and collision, as an attempt to arrive to a qualitative vision of urban space.

In lieu of mapping urban spaces – a recurring concept in his previous works- the artist does not view the city according to typical urban planning standards, instead he points to socio-political affiliations and etymological histories from each community. He divides the city in accordance with the area’s given names, which in turn are based on geological elements, sectarian symbols/individuals, horticultural references, architecture, or family histories. By understanding the city, its sectors and its inhabitants, Rechmaoui’s project acts as a chessboard of battling shields and banners.

MARWAN RECHMAOUI (born in Lebanon 1964) lives and works in Beirut. He has studied sculpture and painting at Massachusetts College of Art between 1987 and 1993. His work has been shown in exhibitions in Lebanon and abroad, including, Ashkal Alwan Homeworks 7 (2015); Istanbul Biennial 13 (2015); Here & Elsewhere, New Museum, New York (2014), Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence, France (2013); Sharjah Biennial (2013 & 2005); Serpentine Gallery, London, UK (2012); Saatchi Gallery, London (2009); Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland (2009); Musée d’art Contemporain de Nîmes, France (2008); and Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium (2008). His works are in the collections of Tate Modern, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Guggenheim Abu Dhabi; The Sharjah Art Foundation; among other major private and public collections.