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  • Writer's pictureCARAVAN Arts

Zena Assi: Creativity in a Time of Crisis

© Zena Assi, 2020

How has this pandemic affected you and your creative output? How are you adapting to the new realities?

Nowadays I found myself redefining the sense of time. The whole world comes to a temporary standstill and time suddenly enters this slow-motion almost surreal dimension. I am spending my day between my studio and my garden observing my surroundings and pausing to observe a micro intimate world full of inspiration.

Please share any insights you have learned from this “lockdown/self-isolation”? Also, is there a special role you feel artists can play in response to the pandemic?

Most artists are self-isolated by nature, so this period was an excuse to explore yet another level. I am working on a new series entitled: ‘Behind the Fence’. It is directly inspired by the quarantine. The fence of my garden takes another role or function, redefining the space, and acting as a screen separating the inside from the inaccessible, the safe from the exposed. Artists have always found ways to get their voices heard. Look how powerful the singing was on the balconies of Italy. In the midst of it all, it gave people hope and connection.

© Zena Assi, Behind the Fence 1, 2 & 3, 2020

How do you think this will affect artists, the art world and how people interact with art? How do you feel this crisis might reshape our societies in general?

Our normality is being challenged, questioned and redefined. But it is empowering how artists can create narratives no matter the obstacles or the absurdity. I hope this social distancing and fear of contagion will not get in the way of the importance the human touch can have. I think our humanity is having a wake-up call, I hope it won’t fade too soon…


Zena Assi was born in Lebanon and lives and works between Beirut and London. She graduated with honors from l’Academie Libanaise des Beaux Arts (ALBA) and taught in different universities. Her art is punctuated by strong visual references to her native Beirut and the predicament of its citizens. She uses various supports and mediums to document and explore the cultural and social changes of her country. Her work takes shape in installation, animation, sculpture, and primarily painting on canvas. Themes that are central to her vision include present-day issues related to countries in the Middle East as they battle with internal strife and civilian unrest. Her works have been frequently shown in international auction houses (i.e. Christies Dubai, Sotheby’s London, and Bonhams London) and are held in notorious public and private collections. She has exhibited in solo as well as collective shows across Europe, the Middle East and the USA.


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