A&E Interviews: Annie Vartivarian, Founder Of Letitia Gallery In Lebanon

Dana Mortada   |   09-04-2018

Letitia Gallery is a new contemporary art gallery founded by two dealers Mohamad Al Hamoud and Annie Vartivarian.  Located in Hamra- the heart of Beirut City, the art space main goal is to focus on encouraging global engagement with modern art in Lebanon, also the gallery is famous for collaborating with international curators to produce project-focused exhibition programs to stage four to five shows every year.


Here we talk to the Ms. Vartivarian about the world of a gallerist, as she shares her views on the art scene withiin the Middle East.


Tell us more about how you decided to get into the contemporary art world? Is there someone who inspired you to become a gallerist?

My passion for contemporary art has been developing over many years of fascination by both Middle Eastern and international artists.

No one in specific inspired me but during my travels I visited many galleries and I always loved to support and encourage artists so it came naturally to become a gallerist.

What made you want to open your own gallery?

Lebanon is considered a hub of discovery for MENA’s regional artistic talents. In recent years Beirut has shown itself to have a voracious appetite for the growth of its cultural landscape.

Beyond the growth of the gallery scene in Beirut; the reopening of museums and inauguration of art foundations highlight the rich cultural heritage of the region and the importance of culture as an instigator of discourse and learning.

Beirut’s place in the contemporary art community is already very exciting and I want to contribute to it by bringing a wide variety of art and artists into my gallery.

What sets your gallery apart from other galleries?

The gallery’s main aim is to provide a platform for discourse around contemporary art within the MENA region. This is achieved through the thoughtful curation of different exhibitions by international artists, many of whom are predominately new to audiences in the Middle East and showing for the first time in the region.



How do you choose the artists to show at Letitia Gallery?

The gallery has a strong ethos of collaboration and has worked in conversation with leading international curators from around the world to discover artists for its program. In some cases the gallery has been fortunate enough to have developed personal friendships with the artists shown. As a patron at the Royal Academy of Arts, the Tate and the Delfina Foundation, I have come into contact and built relationships with a diverse range of contemporary artists.

I make it a point to visit the artist’s studios and have a dialogue with each of them about their work, however artists have always primarily been selected for the caliber of their artistic practice and their ability to translate their work to audiences internationally.

What has been your biggest obstacle?

 We had many challenges but of course the political and economic situation of the country are main obstacles

Do you have a favourite contemporary artist?

Olafur Eliasson, Yayoi Kusama and Anselm Kiefer

What’s your intake on the art scene within the Middle East Region?

The interest in contemporary art that is evolving within the Middle East Region brings more art collectors and art lovers to the art market and this encourages more artists to show their work and share their experiences

If you would have the chance to choose to exhibit any artist, from any era, who would you pick?

Gerhard Richter because he gave to contemporary art a new vision.

What’s on Letitia Gallery’s agenda for the year 2018?

Letitia Gallery inaugurated its program for 2018 with the exhibition “Under the Same Moon” by British artist Eileen Cooper, it will be followed in April by the exhibition “Portmanteau” by Egyptian Artist Ahmed Badry, and then exhibitions for Nathaniel Rackowe and Alejandro Ospina



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