Making art accessible

A new prints project, launched by Teal Editions, is looking to raise the profile of more of the Middle East’s talented artists and extend their reach to a wider audience. Teal’s founder, the Lebanese businessman and art collector Mazen Soueid, discusses the idea behind the initiative with ArtScoops, which is also a collaborative partner on the project.

Hussein Madi, Boats

Mazen Soueid has a simple but steadfast philosophy when it comes to art’s place in the world, which is that it should be enjoyed and appreciated by the many rather than the few. 

“I’m a firm believer that great art should be shared, rather than reserved solely for the privileged,” the Lebanese entrepreneur and art collector with a PhD in Economics from Brown University said. “It’s such a shame to think that a vast number of incredible works remain out of reach for many, especially the younger generation.” 

Dr Soueid’s views go some way to explaining his latest, exciting and innovative project for the region, which involves creating top quality prints of works by several of Lebanon’s leading artists. 

The initiative is being brought to life through a new company created specially for the concept, named Teal Editions. A selection of exceptional prints of carefully chosen, stunning artworks are now available for purchase through various channels, including ArtScoops, which has teamed up with Teal in an exclusive collaboration, to present a limited-edition series of 10 prints of works by three pioneering Lebanese artists.

Dr Soueid explained that gaining access to great art through high quality prints has long been popular in the West, but remains a relatively new idea in the Middle East.

“Prints of seminal works by talented artists are definitely a brilliant way of introducing new generations of enthusiasts who would otherwise be unable to appreciate wonderful art up close or enjoy it in their homes,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to playing a part in increasing their popularity in the Arab world, where I’m sure they will be well received.”

Dr Soueid explained that the print project has several aims, including that of offering an affordable art form to young enthusiasts at a time when money is a pressing issue for many, especially the Lebanese, whose currency has plummeted in value since 2019. “Arab art is increasing in price, which is wonderful for the artists themselves, but unfortunately putting it out of the reach of many young people, which is a huge shame,” he said. 

Another objective is to help raise the profile of more of the region’s talented artists, both at home and abroad. “Of course, some Middle Eastern artists are household names and rightly so, but many others are less well known and deserve more recognition,” Dr Soueid said. “By reproducing their work in print form, with their permission of course, we are introducing it to new audiences on the international stage, and perhaps also reminding others closer to home that there are exceptionally talented artists in their midst.” 

Samir Sayegh, Blue Hob/ Spring (From Love In Four Seasons)

The artists whose works have been selected for the launch of the print project include the Lebanese octogenarian Hussein Madi, whom Dr Soueid described as a natural choice for the project, given that he is “one of the most important living Arab artists”. 

“The prints provide a genuinely fantastic opportunity to rediscover the work of someone who really has earned the title of Master,” he said.

Enthusiasts will find a delightful selection of several of Madi’s best known works in exceptional print form on ArtScoops, including ‘Nude with a Vase’ and ‘Boats’, which, alongside others, showcase his hallmark bold use of colour and primal lines.

Teal Editions also worked closely with the artist to complete a digitalised collection of sketches and other works in a move that proved to be a fascinating project in its own right and one that combined the best of tech with old school creativity. “We asked Madi to finalise the works with colours of his choice and then had them printed on canvas, in a really innovative way,” Dr Soueid said, with a smile. “It really reminded me of a David Hockney scenario, with the artist at home, sat behind computer, as we navigated him through the processes.”

Other artists whose work has been selected for the print series include the renowned Lebanese painter Mohammad El Rawas, with paintings such as ‘Catwalk Practitioner’, which beautifully highlights his exploration of the female form, among those featured.

Art lovers will also find prints showcasing the work of the pioneering calligrapher Samir Sayegh, who has garnered recognition for his groundbreaking approach to liberating Arabic art from its traditional form.

Another creative featured as part of the print project is the leading, US-based, Beirut-born, mixed media artist Nabil Nahas, whose paintings often take inspiration from motifs featured in decorative Islamic art and Lebanon’s lush flora. 

Excitingly for fans of Nahas’s work, Dr Soueid explained that each print by the artist has an individual aspect to it since the artist has undertaken rendering work on top of the pieces. “These special touches mean that every piece is unique, which is very exciting for art lovers and makes them a wonderfully personalised purchase,” he said.

As part of the project, Teal Editions has teamed up with Janet Rady Fine Art to present a selection of exceptional giclée prints on paper and canvas of paintings by Hussein Madi with a focus on the renowned artist’s female figurative work. Titled ‘Les Femmes de Madi’, the show takes place at Gallery 10, Cromwell Place from June 8 - June 12 and features prints of works from significant private collections which, as Dr Soueid delightedly points out, is in line with his overall aim of sharing great art with a wider audience.   

Future plans for Teal Editions include expanding the project to include a variety of additional multiples, ranging from silkscreens to sculptures, alongside the giclées already available, in a move that promises to offer new audiences an even bigger treasure trove of art to explore.

To browse and buy the limited edition prints on ArtScoops, click here.

Mohammad El Rawwas, Lady in Red

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