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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 September 2018

Watch: Beirut street artist Yazan Halwani finds inspiration in city's 'lost culture'

Yazan Halwani’s art is plastered across the buildings of his native Beirut. It covers doors and restaurant facades in Gemmayze, in the east of the city, and an entire building on the main road running through the western neighbourhood of Hamra.

The 24-year-old has quickly become one of Lebanon’s brightest young artists and his work is already part of the city's fabric.

His pieces tend to centre around famous Lebanese cultural figures such as singers Fairouz and Sabah, and often evoke the Beirut of bygone eras.

Halwani says his work on Hamra Street, a mural of Sabah covering the wall of an eight-storey building, was the product of conversations with locals.

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“I actually spoke to the people living there and they used to always talk about this kind of golden era of Hamra where they used to hang out in the streets, people blast some music out of their cars and the music was typically Sabah," he says.

"This was before the civil war and this is why I wanted to kind of make the street itself more reflective of the people living around it.”

Halwani often infuses his work with Arabic calligraphy.

“I used to kind of push it forward by using Arabic calligraphy and making it a pixel for creating figurative murals,” he said. “So this is why the Arabic calligraphy that I use does not say anything in terms of textual meaning but all of the meaning is in the images.”

The artist is currently working on a series of paintings exploring modern Lebanese identity.

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