Today we feel the need to tell you a great story. Lebanon really needs it and the Lebanese who experienced this nameless tragedy a few weeks ago will be both delighted and astonished by this slice of life.
A small Lebanese miracle
Last fall, on the occasion of “Beirut Art Fair, a sublime painting -“ Piccadilly ”- by the great Lebanese artist Ayman Baalbaki sat with a certain arrogance at the entrance of the fair. This canvas called out with its bright colors and conveyed a whole symbolic charge for those who had known the Piccadilly cinema in Beirut in the 1960s and 1970s. These empty, dilapidated armchairs and this decaying cinema - once a symbol of an open and modern Lebanon - sent us an eloquent message.
The proud owner of "Piccadilly" offered after his purchase to exhibit this painting in the premises of a well-known Beirut bank in the heart of the city. What was performed the days following the end of the fair, not without difficulty because it must be said that this painting is monumental.
Time passed, events precipitated, the dreadful August 4 arrived. No one thought of this canvas in the midst of these dramatic events because the Lebanese were truly devastated by this descent into the hells of their country. However, a communication from the Director of this bank to the owner of "Picadilly" a few days later was to tell him that his painting had miraculously survived, intact, despite the bank premises which were totally blown away by the accursed explosion. The photo below illustrates the damage at this establishment.
Incredulous, everyone was therefore asking this question and trying to unravel this mystery: how could this painting have been spared when everything around was nothing but devastation? However, "Picadilly" was indeed still there, immovable, unshakable, despite the surrounding global devastation, despite a devastated city center, within unrecognizable premises.
The decision was therefore taken to repatriate this painting to the gallery which had originally sold it in order to protect it from dust and nuisances that would be caused during the cleaning and repair of these premises. There, a thorny problem was raised by the owner of this gallery who warned that it would be complicated to leave "Picadilly" which, given its size, had required the removal of the main door of the bank for a whole day to its installation! Communicating this problem to the Director of the bank, the latter replied in a tone that was half resigned, half joking: “but there is no longer a door…”. And it was there that the measure of this little miracle of a painting that had stood against all odds, which had proudly passed the course was really taken.
Today, this painting has been removed from its temporary home and returned safely to the gallery.
You can see it: “Piccadilly” is more than ever with us, as if Ayman Baalbaki had just given it his final touch. His air is still just as proud: it's as if he is taunting us with his will to live.
This is only material but today we have decided to share this story with you because we see in it - and it is obvious - a powerful symbol.
Understand who can, and act who wants.