Today, I would like to be a Tree

An artist's project in response to the 4th of August explosion to help rebuild Beiruti houses.

On July 27, 2020, Galerie Tanit inaugurated the show “Remains of the Last Red Rose” by the artist Abed Al Kadiri.

On August 4, 2020, a horrific explosion at the port turned Beirut into rubble. The gallery was destroyed, Al Kadiri’s works were buried under the shattered glass and obliterated walls.

Today, I would like to be a Tree attempted to counter the devastation felt after the Beirut port explosion. At once a tribute to the late Jean-Marc Bonfils, architect of the gallery building (East Village), and a contribution to rebuilding lost homes, Today, I would like to be a Tree is a project conceived by Abed Al Kadiri and directed by Marc Mouarkech.

The work consisted of two murals divided into eighty 100x70cm drawings on cardboard, painted by Al Kadiri. All proceeds from the purchase of the works directly benefited BASSMA, an organization committed to rebuilding the homes of Beirutis most affected by the destruction.

The tree: a reaction to suffocation

The artist said: “I conceived this project as a constructive reaction against the feeling of suffocation. Be it suffocation from the recent pandemic, Lebanon’s economic/political situation, or the world’s biggest non-nuclear explosion. Observing the pain surrounding me, I had a recurring thought: I wanted to be a tree.

The tree is an alternative, perhaps even an antidote. It protects, although shaken by ravages. Its roots embrace the earth from which it has sprung, in a reciprocal life force loop. A landscape of trees—serene and unflinching—stands as a counterforce to the conquering shocks that wrought their stinging havoc. The tree endures. And by enduring, heals. I want to be a tree that of such power that it can even erase the harm.

This landscape will metamorphose onto the walls of Galerie Tanit—the very walls on which hung my latest exhibition, the very walls obliterated by the explosion. The gallery, now a (forced) open space, will host the creation of two murals painted on eighty cardboard panels. I will be drawing trees—the trees of Beirut, the trees of my utopic dreams, the trees of change.”

A tribute to one and many

“This body of work is first and foremost a tribute to the memory of the architect, our friend, Jean-Marc Bonfils,” explained the artist. “He played a major role reviving Lebanon’s heritage, and built landmarks in our beloved Beirut. It is also a tribute to all the people and friends who fell victim to this massacre.”

“The explosion has left us broken, mourning our losses,” concluded Al Kadiri. “From beloved individuals, to places engraved in our memories, to our treasured Beirut as we know it. Most strenuous of all is how, in a matter of seconds, this event robbed, or even worse, annihilated the dreams of a nation—mine included—as we witnessed our capital reduced to rubble. Today, I would like to be a Tree is an attempt to overcome.”