Beirut- Graffiti has remarkably invaded Lebanon’s streets. Graffiti drawings appeared in many regions on the walls of buildings to replace the gloom of cement with the joy of colors. Tripoli was among the Lebanese cities colored with the magic stick of graffiti recently, when the governor of the North, Judge Ramzi Nohra, sponsored an eco- beautifying project in which 15 public schools participated to draw on their buildings’ walls.
The graffiti “From my Heart to Beirut” drawn by brothers Omar and Mohammed Kabbani on a Building in Beirut’s Mazraa area is the latest gift they introduced to the capital in this field. It came after a graffiti featuring the late artists Wadih el-Safi and Sabah in Ashrafieh, and another one featuring Ziad Rahbani on a building located at Beshara el Khoury-Basta area.
Omar Kabbani, member of ASHEKMAN crew, which manages the graffiti projects on the capital’s buildings said: “We try to color Beirut with joy through our graffiti which started in 2001”.
He also told Asharq Al-Awsat: “This time we chose Fairouz as a theme for our coming graffiti drawings. We were inspired by a beautiful photo featuring the diva covering her head with a scarf that we used as a space to write Arabic expressions on Beirut”. Why Fairouz? He answered: “Because she is one of the Lebanese divas of art who always addressed messages through her songs to the Arab and Lebanese people.”
The drawing has a 14 meter width and covers a six-floor building in the Mazraa area. It is colored in yellow with a blue background, and features a photo of Fairouz taken from one of her plays.
The execution of this drawing took three days. Brothers Kabbani waited for the spring to launch this project after it was supposed to start at the beginning of winter. Omar says: “Bad weather conditions prevented us from starting the project on time, so we waited for spring to come. We lifted a huge sign during the graffiti processing entitled “we and the sun are neighbors” to highlight the person we are drawing and the efforts we are making under the sun”.
Omar adds that he and his brother Mohammed have formed a renowned art crew in the world of graffiti. They are known with their passion for Arabic calligraphy and they were invited to partake in art festivals in many Arab and European countries.
Omar Kabbani continues: “We partook in many art festivals in the UAE, Kuwait, Jeddah, Geneva, Britain, and Armenia, at the request of their culture ministries. The graffiti drawn on buildings in Jeddah were selected by employees from a local art fair, and they featured the famous character “Grendizer”.
“It is a famous character in the Arab world and Lebanon, therefore, we chose it as a theme for our graffiti in Lebanon and abroad. The latest graffiti we drew in Lebanon featured this character in the Ouzai area. This area’s popular streets and neighborhoods are currently witnessing many architectural changes through graffiti themed “Ouzeville”.
Graffiti is the art of drawing on walls in which artists use sprays. It has emerged in Lebanon during the civil war, when militias used to draw photos or write slogans that highlight their identities and convictions. This art has developed in Lebanon and become spread in Beirut and its suburbs with the support of Beirut Municipality, which saw the graffiti as a perfect way to decorate the capital’s streets instead of ads and chaotic scratches.
Omar says: “We tried to add a space of joy and freedom on Beirut streets, which give people a negative spirit.”
He adds: “First, my brother and I used to draw those graffiti based on personal initiatives after taking the permission from the building’s owner. However, today, this type of art has spread in Lebanon with the support of sponsors, Municipality of Beirut, and other interested public and private institutions, which widened the work perspectives in this field.”
Among the upcoming projects of Brothers Kabbani, they intend to draw “Abou Salim”, a series that was displayed on the national television “TL” in the seventies. “Those are Lebanese figures we would like to honor on our way, after they introduced a great art that engraved deep memories in the Lebanese people till this date”, Omar concluded.