beirut's lifestyle infrastructure arguably is the most sophisticated in the region, and despite volatile circumstances it continues to flourish and expand in new directions. located in the heart of the city is aïshti, a multi-storey department store that's not only synonymous to high-end fashion, but which also contributed a great deal to beirut's newly gained status as one of the region's leading shopping destinations by additionally opening a string of luxury monobrand stores. aïshti's founder and ceo tony salamé has always been a passionate about contemporary art, and began collecting artworks of emerging and leading artists early on and has even exhibited some of these at his stores across lebanon. aiming to introduce contemporary art to as wide an audience as possible, salamé has boldly taken his drive to a new level and recently opened the metropolitan art society.
the new art gallery for contemporary art is housed in bustros palace, a magnificent 19th-century landmark building in the leafy achrafieh neighbourhood. fronted by a luscious garden the building features 500 sqm. [5,382 sq.ft.] of gallery space on the ground floor, boasting high ceilings and plenty of windows that allow in floods of natural light. a meticulous restauration has well-preserved the sturcture's exotic blend of ottoman and florentine styles and also added two restaurants and even a gym. the metropolitan art society's inaugural exhibition is called east of eden, and is curated by massimo de carlo of mdc gallery in milan. this show features carefully selected works by various international artists, including john armleder, christian holstad, thomas houseago, yan pei-ming and rob pruitt [on through sep 10]. location: 35 rue trabaud [achrafieh].