Women Living True to their Spirit – Lina Lazaar

Lina Lazaar is an art critic and curator championing Arab artists. As a talent-hunter and market-maker, she has established herself as the art specialist of the Middle East. Lina is the Vice President at the The Kamel Lazaar Foundation  – which produces and supports artistic and cultural projects in the  MENA region [Middle East and North African Region]. She previously worked at Sotheby’s, London, where she supported the emergence of contemporary Arab art on the international scene.

Lina is of Tunisian heritage, she was born in Saudi Arabia, raised in Geneva, Switzerland and educated in London – she has an MA degree in Statistics from the London School of Economics and an MA in Art History from Sotheby’s Institute of Art.  With all this diversity, Lina has a beautiful mosaic of multi-cultural experiences in her life to draw from, and brings an alternative, unique voice to the art world.

On Living True to her Spirit:

Lina believes it feels empowering to be heard, to be given an opportunity to express yourself. Reflecting on her Tunisian roots she says, “It is important that my generation feel free to express themselves as Africans and as universal human beings….the Arab world is so dysfunctional now in terms border control, mobility, war, censorship – to such an extent that it’s easier for artists to travel to Europe than to neighbouring countries. However, what I’m experiencing is their interest in coming to residencies here. It is my mission to create this kind of cross-national conversation. When you bring everyone together, that’s magic.”

Lina is creating this magic by being true to her spirit – she is forging a new pathway of self-expression for herself, through the exhibitions she curates, and for her generation and artists previously unknown.

On Art as a means of Self-Expression:

Lina believes artists often sense an impending shift in social consciousness before anyone else does. In fact she sees artists as being the real documenters of our time. In a recent symposium in New York, “What is Art for?” Lina addressed this question by stating that, “Art is the act of human expression of extraordinary thoughts, opinions and ideas, intended to make a contribution to the human condition.”  I loved this definition and found it very moving. I later learned that it is this very definition of art that led Lina to create the Jaou Project  – a platform that endeavours to further the cause of Self-Expression through Art…and in so doing, accelerating culture change in the MENA. A worthy mission and much needed.

Through the artworks selected in her curations, Lina investigates how artists from the diverse, fragmented MENA region have responded to the social, economical and political challenges. I find this particularly interesting about her work – whilst Lina’s role might best be described as an art curator, she is more than that – she is part curator, part researcher, part historian and part future culture shaper all rolled into one. She is an agent for change and wields art as her tool for transforming hearts and minds – and this is what the MENA region needs to express itself, to heal what has past, to prepare for and honour a revival of the cultural compass of some of the most beautiful landscapes of the world.

As Lina articulately emphasises, “There’s no doubt that Art is an agent for change, it is subtle and subversive, and the most efficient language that is able to infiltrate the minds and souls of people who may not necessarily be able to, or be willing to, listen.”

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