By Katherine Clarkson
A black rubber map of Beirut made out of old car tyres is one of the pieces of modern art on display in the Saatchi Gallery’s latest show.
The exhibition features the works of 19 artists from countries as diverse as Algeria and Iran, Lebanon and Iraq.
The map made out of old tyres is the work of artist Marwan Rechmaoui, whose work focuses on the harsh realities of his native Lebanon. His Beirut Caoutchouc is a black rubber map divided into 60 or so segments representing the different neighbourhoods of the city.
The artwork is intended to raise questions about the depth of the social and sectarian divides within the Lebanese capital and the physical consequences that they entail.
While it’s good to see inspired and creative uses for old tyres, the art world is less appreciative of the Saatchi Gallery’s latest offerings.
Questions have been raised as to how useful it is to base an exhibition solely on the premise that these artists are all from some vaguely-defined wider region – especially as the majority of these artists currently reside in either Europe or the United States.
One critic commented: ‘Certainly many of the works seem to have been chosen because they pander to the common Western perceptions of the most pressing issues in the Muslim world as a whole.’