Throughout the past decade, British artist Tom Young’s work has captured Lebanon on the cusp of globalization and change. His contributions in safeguarding Beirut’s traditional architecture equally breathe life into the personal histories of the city’s residents. Young has lived in Beirut for the past 15 years in the neighborhood of Gemmayzeh, known for its hundreds of years old, beautiful historic buildings. Gemmayzeh was among the hardest hit by the devastating explosion of Beirut’s port on August 4th last year, a tragedy that killed hundreds, injured thousands, and left ruin in its wake. One may recall Young’s painting, “Toxic Beirut” (2020), featured on the cover of Al Jadid Vol. 24, No. 79, which was painted on September 11 when a fire broke out at the site of the port explosion. “All of us in Beirut were (and still are) scared that another disaster could happen at any time. Painting it is a way of harnessing that fear, transforming it into something meaningful, and perhaps, beautiful,” he told Al Jadid.
“We Want the Truth” (2021) appears on this issue’s cover. Depicting a crowd of people waving Lebanese flags, Young illustrates the gathering that took place on the one-year anniversary of the explosion. The people still have no answers, and those responsible are yet to be held accountable. In the words of Young: “People were demoralized and broken, helpless in the face of such injustice, corruption and brutality...as the country descended further into a state of collapse...no one knew what to do or how to change anything.”