Zena Al Khalil

Lebanese interdisciplinary artist Zena Al Khalil’s vibrant body of work draws on both irony and humour to reflect the contradictions she witnesses in Beirut. Khalil experiments with painting, installation, performance, writing and mixed media, while commenting on consumerism, war, chaos and the bizarre bedlam of modern Lebanese society.

Al Khalil’s blog – beirutupdate.blogspot.com – gained global acclaim during the July 2006 Israeli attacks on Lebanon, when her posts appeared on global news portals such as CNN and BBC. The Israeli invasion and persistent struggles facing Palestine have motivated Al Khalil’s large-scale mixed-media paintings. She pulls photocopied images of militiamen, women and family members together with glitter, plastic flowers, strings of lights, beads, plastic toy soldiers, coloured keffiyehs, and pink and gold fabrics. The mixture articulates paradoxes she witnesses in Beirut, where political instability persists against a backdrop of massive consumption and kitsch.

Born in 1976 in London, El-Khalil has also lived in Nigeria, New York and Beirut. She published a memoir, “Beirut I Love You”, in 2008 derived from her online diary, and has exhibited work around the world.