Dubai: A Lebanese artist has won the popular vote from among the three winners in the 2010 Abraaj Capital Art Prize.
Marwan Sahmarani's work "The Feast of the Damned", which she said represented the pain and suffering of the conflict in the Middle East, was chosen by almost half of those who voted.
The Abraaj Capital Art Prize is slated as the world's only art prize that rewards artists from the culturally-rich and diverse Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (Menasa) region together.
A poll was conducted via the prize's Facebook fan page, inviting votes from curators, critics, artists and collectors that attended Art Dubai and attendees of a subsequent exhibition of winners at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).
Mahita Al Bacha Urieta curated Sahmarani's work.
Abraaj Capital Art Prize Selection Committee member, and Abraaj Capital executive director Frederic Sicre, said: "After the selection committee has made its choice, it is crucial that the public has the opportunity to comment on the prize and its winners, thus giving them a greater sense of involvement in this initiative".
"We were overwhelmed by the number of people who voted. The massive [number] of cards, e-mails and SMSs that flooded in, the fans on Facebook and the followers on Twitter. "This clearly shows that the prize, though still in its infancy, is gaining real traction in the region and beyond, and resonating as a prize for and of the region," he said.
Sahmarani left his home town of Beirut in 1989 to study in Paris at l'Ecole Supérieur d'Art Graphique. He now lives and works in Montreal.
His works take their form in oil paintings, drawings, ceramics and performance art, described as a "reflection upon the mediums themselves and their support in the face of sociopolitical problems".
The Lebanese artist held an exhibition at Dubai's The Third Line art gallery in 2007 entitled ‘Can You Teach me how to Fight?' Paintings and drawings in the exhibition depict battles occurring between the 10th and 14th centuries in the region.
The other winners of the 2010 Abraaj Capital Art Prize were Algerian artist Kader Attiyah and Egyptian artist Hala Al Koussy.