Natasha Gasparian

Natasha Gasparian

College Email Address: 

Ruskin School of Art, St John’s College

Supervisors: Professor Anthony Gardner and Professor Eugene Rogan

Natasha Gasparian is an art historian and curator who works on modern and contemporary art in the Arabic-speaking world. She is the author of Commitment in the Artistic Practice of Aref El-Rayess: The Changing of Horses (Anthem Press, 2020). Recently, she was a curatorial assistant to Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath for the 16th edition of the Lyon Biennale, as well as the managing editor of the biennale publications. Her writing has appeared in Artforum, Camera Austria and Text Zur Kunst, as well as in the publications of the Iraqi pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale and the 16th Lyon Biennale.

Her doctoral research at the University of Oxford seeks to theorize the notion of an avant-garde in relation to politically committed, and decidedly anti-colonial, artistic practices in Beirut, Lebanon, after the Arab defeat of the 1967 Six-Day War. Treating the avant-garde negatively in relation to a singular modernity – and not as a predefined term with a set of positive criteria – her dissertation proposes to take seriously the asynchronous or anachronistic character of the avant-garde. Attentive to the intersections of, and the gaps between, politics and aesthetics during a heightened period of struggle between the 1967 war and the onset of the Lebanese Civil War, she presents a social history of an art geared toward an emancipatory politics. Her research is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and a St John’s College scholarship.

Selected Publications: 


Commitment in the Artistic Practice of Aref El-Rayess: The Changing of Horses, Anthem Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey series, Anthem Press, 2020

Book chapters

“The Trouble with Sex: Surrealism as Style in 1970s Beirut” in Manifesto of Fragility: Beirut and the Golden Sixties, ed. Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, Silvana Editoriale, 2022

“Case Study 4: The First Sanayeh Plastic Arts Meeting, Beirut Lebanon 1995” in Contemporary Art and Capitalist Modernization: A Transregional Perspective, ed. Octavian Esanu, Taylor & Francis/Routledge, 2020


“Authority and the Family: Picasso in Ashrafieh,” Text Zur Kunst no. 128 (co-authored with Ziad Kiblawi) [forthcoming December 2022]

Review of Walid Sadek’s “Paintings, 2020-2022” (Saleh Barakat Gallery) in Artforum 61:3

Online review of “Tripoliscope: In Search of Tripoli’s Cinema Culture and Practices” (UMAM D&R)

Review of Aref El-Rayess retrospective, “Paintings, drawings, collages, sculptures 1948–2005” (Sfeir-Semler Gallery) in Artforum 60:5

Review of Shuruq Harb’s “Ghost at the Feast” (Beirut Art Center) in Camera Austria, issue no. 155

“The ‘Lebanese’ Landscape and Its (Trans)Historical Ideal”, Saradar Collection (co-authored with Angela Harutyunyan), 2018