Artopia: A Patron of Libyan Art

Laila Adam and Shehab Abdelnabi launched Artopia because of their belief in art's positive impact on society and culture.
Artopia: A Patron of Libyan Art
Artists can sell their work through Artopia’s platform.

During Qaddafi’s rule, many artists had to resort to self-censorship to avoid exile or imprisonment. The regime was only accepting of realist art that they approved of. Today, in the midst of chaos and with no centralized power, some Libyan youth are working to create a space for art and culture. Two such individuals are Laila Adam and Shehab Abdelnabi. The duo launched Artopia in Benghazi in 2018. Their aim is to raise national awareness of art and culture while supporting Libyan artists.

Supporting Art Amidst the Chaos

Artopia is trying to facilitate communication between Libyan artists and art lovers around the world. Through the platform, art enthusiasts have the opportunity to be involved in the artistic landscape in Libya.

“We believe in art’s ability to make people more accepting of differences and diversity and that art immortalizes an idea while telling its story.”Leila Adam, Co-Founder, Artopia

Leila Adam is an Information Technology graduate, however, her love for art inspired her to establish Artopia. She tells WAYA, “We believe in art’s ability to make people more accepting of differences and diversity and that art immortalizes an idea while telling its story”. The startup wants to support artists as they try to make a career in Libya’s limited artistic scene.

Artists can showcase their art on the platform and on Artopia’s social media pages. Additionally, Artopia has art galleries in Benghazi and other governorates in Libya. These allow artists to display their works and they can make a profit off of sales.

Salha Alhashemi, Artopia’s project manager, believes that Libya suffers from a lack of artistic culture. “The concept of Artopia was new for Libyan society. People were not convinced about the role art could have in generating positive change in society. So, our role as a business is to promote this idea,” she says.

In 2019, the company launched the Art Series project, which runs individual exhibitions of Libyan artists. “The idea of ​​the project is to organize an individual exhibition for each artist. These take place for two days, in which the artist talks about their work,” Adam says.

Artopia has organized exhibitions in Libya and Lebanon, in which over 35 artists have participated. It plans to expand and organize more art exhibitions and seminars in Libya and in the wider region.

A Limited Market for Art and Entrepreneurship

The biggest challenge the co-founders faced was the lack of market research and statistical data about arts and culture in Libya. As a result, Artopia had to pave its own path. “Instead of relying on market research, Artopia became the one doing the research,” Alhashimi says. The lack of information available information meant that the Artopia team had to fill in this gap.

“Instead of relying on market research, Artopia became the one doing the research.” Salha Alhashimi, Project Manager, Artopia

Another challenge, the team tells WAYA is that entrepreneurship is not common in Libya. Although there are few startups, those that exist work hard to survive in a harsh business environment.

If you see something out of place or would like to contribute to this story, check out our Ethics and Policy section.

If you see something out of place or would like to contribute to this story, check out our Ethics and Policy section.