"I apologize for not speaking in Armenian. I would have loved to. I know some words, and I may use them on another occasion."
The four artists — Fayçal SULTAN, Théo MANSOUR, Charbel Samuel AOUN, and Wissam BEYDOUN — presented a collection of their recent works.
The welcome speech of the event was given by Ms. Carla Tutunjian, a member of the Art Gallery's Committee. She highly praised the idea and organization of the collective exhibition of Lebanese artists in an Armenian art gallery. She stressed that one of the goals of the gallery is to give the opportunity to Lebanese artists, besides Armenian ones, to display their works.
Ms. Tutunjian said that Mr. Audi's contributions in the fields of banking and finance are well-known. However, he has also contributed to the establishment and work of various art centers. These efforts include, for example, his initiative to turn his ancient family house in Sidon into a museum, as well as his idea to create another art center in the same region. Ms. Tutunjian added that Mr. Audi has always had faith in Lebanon's bright future, even during the worst days of the Civil War.
Mr. Hagop Havatian, director of the Hamazkayin Lucy Tutunjian Art Gallery, spoke next. He said that since the founding of the art gallery, one of its objectives has been to bring together Armenian and Lebanese artists and art lovers. He said that this collective exhibition "once again demonstrates that art is the best medium to promote open communication, cultural exchange, and mutual understanding." He added: "As in the past, Hamazkayin continues to play a unique role in various realms of Lebanese artistic life, continuously striving for improvement and excellence."
Then, Havatian invited Mr. Audi to receive a souvenir-gift on behalf of the Hamazkayin Lucy Tutunjian Art Gallery. Mr. Sarkis Armenian, representing the Art Gallery's Committee, handed the gift. Mrs. Lucy Tutunjian, painter and the Art Gallery's main sponsor, had also a surprise for Mr. Audi. She presented to him a portrait of him that she had personally painted. Touched by the warm welcome he received from Armenian art lovers, Mr. Audi once again stressed the role of the Armenian people not only in Lebanese culture but also their contributions at a global level. "I am happy to be a friend of such a creative nation. You must be proud for having wonderful people, a wonderful culture, and a wonderful country: Armenia. This year, I will certainly visit your homeland."
Talking about the portrait she had painted, Mrs. Lucy Tutunjian said that the resemblance and external appearance are not as important to her as a person's essence, character, and personality. "In the portrait, I have tried to express exactly the latter, the inner elements," she explained.
The exhibition will run until February 29, 2012 (daily from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.).