Before Lebanon’s Civil War (1975 – 1990), Beirut, the country’s capital, was known for its cosmopolitan and elegant sense of self. It was a dynamic city with charming architecture that recalled the Belle Epoque of its French counterpart, and in the 50s and 60s earned a reputation of being the Paris of the Middle East.
After the Civil War, the beauty of Beirut was left in ruins and the glow that once kept the streets warm and lively late into the night suddenly disappeared. But graffiti artists have stepped in to try and bring that glow back by unleashing their talent on the facades of war torn buildings. With hard work, dedication, and passion they’ve achieved what they set out to do and made Beirut a hotspot for culture once again.
Beirut’s Graffiti Carrying the Message
Among the many interesting things you can see and experience in Beirut, vivid street art will definitely catch your eye. Where there were once bullet holes, today there are encouraging messages of hope in the form of colorful graffiti art.
The inspiration for graffiti images varies depending on the artist and the location, but it’s not a rare thing to spot a famous Lebanese singer immortalized beside a whimsical dreamscape. Some of these huge murals cover entire buildings.
New, fresh graffiti often replaces the old as politics change and there are new messages to communicate. Graffiti is even making its way into trendy bars and hotels that recognize this particular genre of art as a home-grown type of self-expression. Street art has become iconic in Beirut over time and given birth to the graffiti artist as a kind of revolutionary.
Colorful Stairways to Heaven
Some of the most recognizable street art spots in Beirut are the painted stairs made by a Lebanese team of artists known as the Dihzahyners. This community of graffiti artists and enthusiasts came up with the idea of painting stairs all over the city to turn everyday walking into a magical experience. The project has painted 73 steps in Beirut, and although this doesn’t sound like very many, it has had a positive effect on the urban landscape of the city. You can see some of their work in the images below.
Is Beirut’s Banksy Also a Mystery?
Considered Beirut’s Banksy, Yazan Halwani is a young Lebanese street artist known for his specific graffiti style called “Calligraffiti”. This unique street art style blends the arts of graffiti and Arabic calligraphy. By re-purposing Arabic calligraphy, the style aims to give a new dimension to an ancient art form.
As a very young boy he started dabbling in street art, and may have been one of the youngest artists in the town honing his street art craft at just 19 years old. Born in 1993, this young graffiti artist started to draw attention with his large scale murals that appear all over Beirut. His murals are also characterized by portraits of iconic Lebanese and Arab artists and cultural icons. Halwani is also transforming city streets with his sculptures made of cement.
In the video below, you’ll find a documentary of Yazan Halwani completing a mural on an iconic building in Beirut named the “Heart Of Hamra”.
It’s an honor to announce that we’ll have the pleasure of working with Yazan Halwani very soon! He’ll paint our brand new Muncheez location!