Farid Aouad (1924–1982)
Farid Aouad was born in the village of Maydan in South Lebanon in 1924. He studied painting and drawing at the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts from 1943-1947. Due to his limited means, he mainly worked on paper in the early years of his artistic training. In 1948, he received a scholarship to study in Paris at L’École National Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and trained in the studios of Othon Friesz and André Lhote until 1951. He returned to Beirut for several years before moving permanently to Paris in 1959. He continued to show his work regularly in Beirut at Sursock Museum’s annual Salon d’Automne and Galerie L’Amateur. His exhibitions include the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles (1963, 1964) and Galleria La Barcaccia, Rome (1972). Aouad died in Paris in 1982 and was paid a special tribute by the Sursock Museum.
Shafic Abboud (1926–2004)
Shafic Abboud was born in 1926 in the town of Bikfaya in Mount Lebanon. He studied at the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts under Lebanese painter César Gemayel and Ferdinando Manetti from 1945 to 1947 before enrolling at the Faculté des Lettres in Paris in 1947. While in Paris he trained in the studios of André Lhote, Jean Metzinger, Othon Friesz and Fernand Léger and then studied drawing and engraving at L'École des Beaux-Arts in Paris with the support of a scholarship from the Lebanese government from 1952 to 1956. He remained in France for the rest of his life but frequently returned to Beirut where he exhibited widely. Notable exhibitions include the first Biennale de Paris (1959), Salon d’Automne, Beirut (1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966), and Centre d’Art (1971, 1972, 1975). He was awarded the Prix Victor Choquet in 1961 and Sursock Museum’s Prix du Salon d’Automne in 1964. He taught at the institute of Fine Arts at the Lebanese University from 1968-1975 and later at the Unité Pédagogique d’Architecture in Paris from 1978 to 1982. Abboud died in Paris in 2004. In 2011 the Institut du Monde Arabe hosted a major retrospective of his work, which travelled to the Beirut Exhibition Center the following year. A biography of the artist by Pascal le Thorel was published in 2015. His work is collected by public and private institutions in Paris, Beirut and the UAE.
Etel Adnan (1925–2021)
Etel Adnan was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1925. In 1949, she moved to Paris to study philosophy at the Université de Paris–Sorbonne and went on to pursue post-graduate studies in philosophy at UC Berkeley and Harvard from 1955 to 1958. She then taught philosophy at Dominican College of San Rafael, California until 1972 when she returned to Beirut. She took up the post of cultural editor at two daily francophone newspapers, al-Safa and L’Orient le Jour, where she first publicly articulated her aesthetic and political concerns. She began exhibiting her paintings and leporellos in Beirut at Dar El-Fan (1973), Modulart (1975) and Alec Manoukian Art Center (1975) before fleeing Lebanon in 1976 amid civil war. Adnan’s work has attracted a great deal of attention in recent years. It has been featured in Documenta 13, Kassel (2012), the Whitney Biennial, New York (2014), Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha (2014), the 14th Istanbul Biennial (2015), SF MoMA (2018) and Guggenheim New York (2021). Her work is held in public and private collections worldwide. A biography of the artist by Kaelen Wilson-Goldie was published in 2018.
Dia al-Azzawi (b. 1939)
Dia al-Azzawi was born in Baghdad in 1939. He earned a degree in Archaeology from the University of Baghdad in 1962 in addition to a diploma from the city’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1964. He then worked as an archaeologist in the Department of Antiquities in Baghdad until 1976, when he moved to London. He belonged to several art movements, including the New Vision Group, which he co-founded in 1969, the One Dimension group which he joined in 1971, and the Iraqi Plastic Artists’ Society, through which, as secretary, he established the Al-Wasiti Festival in Baghdad in 1972. He frequently showed his work in Beirut at Gallery One (1965, 1966, 1969, 1972) and Contact Art Gallery (1973, 1974). In London, he put on numerous exhibitions as the artistic advisor to the Iraqi Cultural Centre. Throughout his artistic career, he worked in a wide range of media from painting and drawing to monumental sculpture and portable artist books. His work has been widely exhibited and collected by public and private institutions, including Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris and Mathaf: Museum of Arab Modern Art in Doha, Qatar. A monograph of the artist by Catherine David was published in 2017. He continues to live in London where he has been in voluntary exile for more than four decades.
Alfred Basbous (1924–2006)
Alfred Basbous was born in the village of Rachana, Lebanon in 1924. He held his first solo exhibition at Galerie Alecco Saab in Beirut. In 1960, he received a scholarship to study at L’École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he trained with the sculptor René Collamarini. His works were included in the International Sculpture Exhibition at the Musée Rodin in Paris in 1961. He won several awards, including the “Prix de L’Orient” in Beirut in 1963, Sursock Museum’s Salon d’Automne prize in 1964 and 1965, the Alexandria Biennale prize in 1974, and a posthumous gold medal from the Lebanese Order of Merit. From 1994 to 2004, Basbous organized the annual International Symposium of Sculpture in Rachana. His works feature in the collections of the Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut; the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Musée Rodin, Paris
Joseph Basbous (1929–2001)
Joseph Basbous was born in the village of Rachana, Lebanon in 1929. He began working as a stone mason and helped his older brothers Michel Basbous and Alfred Basbous execute their works. He later experimented with wood to produce his own sculptures. He participated at Sursock Museum’s Salon d’Automne in 1966, 1967 and 1969 and won the second prize twice. He also participated in the Alexandria Biennale and the Sculpture Symposium in Aswan in addition to other exhibitions in Lebanon, Paris, London, Saudi Arabia and Morocco. His work is collected by MACAM – Modern and Contemporary Art Museum in Alita, Lebanon.
Michel Basbous (1921–1981)
Born in the village of Rachana, Lebanon, in 1921 Michel Basbous was a draughtsman and sculptor. He studied sculpture at L’Academie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts from 1945 to 1949 and then received a scholarship from the Lebanese government to further his studies at L’École Superieure Nationale de Beaux-Arts in Paris. He returned to Paris in 1954 to train in the studio of Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967). In 1957, he was made professor of sculpture at the American University of Beirut. He moved back to his native village the following year where he founded an open-air sculpture park outside his studio, turning Rachana into a centre of artistic life. In 1968, he was awarded the first prize at Sursock Museum. Michel Basbous died in Rachana in 1981. His work features in the collections of the British Museum, London and The Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah. The Basbous museum was established in his honor.
Assadour Bezdikian (b. 1943)
Assadour Bezdikian was born in Bourj Hammoud in the northern suburbs of Beirut in 1943. He took private painting lessons with Paul Guiragossian, joined the studio of Lebanese-Armenian painter Guvder, and later enrolled in art classes taught by Lebanese painter Jean Khalifé at the Italian Cultural Center in Beirut. A scholarship from the Italian government supported his training in painting and engraving at the Pietro Vannucci Academy in Perugia Italy in the summers of 1962 and 1963. He then received a scholarship from the Lebanese Ministry of Culture to study at L’École Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1964 to 1967. During the same period, he trained in the studio of Lucien Coutaud in Paris. In Beirut, his work was shown at Sursock Museum’s Salons d’Automne (1962, 1963, 1964), Gallery One (1963, 1964), Galerie L’Amateur (1966, 1969) and Modulart (1972, 1975). He illustrated several publications and won numerous international awards, including the Gold Medal at the Terza Biennale Internationale Della Grafica d'Arte, Florence (1972); the Silver Medal at the Biennale Internationale de l'Estampe, Epinal, France (1973 and the Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris (1984). He was honored with a retrospective at the Sursock Museum in 2016. He lives and works in Paris.
Huguette Caland (1931–2019)
Huguette Caland was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1931. She was the daughter of Bechara el-Khoury, the first president of Independent Lebanon. In 1947, she took painting lessons under the private tutelage of the Italian painter Fernando Manetti in Lebanon. She began producing work independently early in her life and formally studied art at the American University of Beirut, where she took classes with Helen El-Khal, from 1964 to 1968. In 1970, she moved to Paris where she remained until 1987. She held several exhibitions in Beirut during the long 1960s, including Salon d’Automne (1967, 1974), Dar El-Fan (1970), Delta International Art Center (1972) and Contact Art Gallery (1973). In 1979, she designed a collection of caftans with the French designer Pierre Cardin. Following the death of her partner, Romanian sculptor George Apostu, she moved to Venice, California and hosted regular gatherings for local artists in her home. She returned to Beirut in 2013 where she remained until her death. Since 2012 her work has been presented in exhibitions worldwide and is now held in institutional collections such as the Bibliothèque Nationale-Paris; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Fondation National d’Art Contemporain, Paris; Tate St. Ives; British Museum, London; LACMA, Los Angeles; Armand Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego; Palm Springs Museum of Art, Palm Springs and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Rafic Charaf (1932–2003)
Rafic Charaf was born in Baalbek, Lebanon, in 2003. Hailing from a family of blacksmiths of modest means, he received scholarships to attend the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts and the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid from 1955 to 1957. He then attended the Pietro Vanucci Academy in Perugia, Italy in 1960 before returning to Beirut. His work was exhibited annually at the Hotel Carlton and at the annual Salon du Printemps at the UNESCO Palace and the Salon d’Automne at the Sursock Museum during the long 1960s. He also held exhibitions at Contact Art Gallery (1973, 1975). Charaf taught at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Lebanese University from 1965 to 1982 and was the dean of the faculty from 1982 to 1987. He was the recipient of the Prix de I’lle de France in 1963 and the 1st prize of the Salon du Printemps in 1959. His work has been collected by public and private institutions in Lebanon and by the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah.
Saloua Raouda Choucair (1916–2017)
Saloua Raouda Choucair was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1916. She studied the natural sciences at the American Junior College for Women (now the Lebanese American University) from 1934 to 1937 and then moved with her parents to Iraq in 1937 where she taught drawing. She returned to Beirut in 1937, training in the studio of Omar Onsi. She later attended art classes with the painter Moustafa Farroukh at the American University of Beirut (AUB) while pursuing a degree in philosophy. In 1948 she enrolled at L’École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and trained in Fernand Léger’s studio. She returned to Beirut permanently in 1951 and exhibited annually in the Salon du Printemps at the UNESCO Palace and the Salon d’Automne at the Sursock Museum in the long 1960s. Her work also appeared in group exhibitions in Beirut at Contact Art Gallery (1972), Gallery One (1974), Modulart (1975) and Dar El Fan (1975). She participated in the 1968 Alexandria Biennale. In 1986, she lectured in the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture of AUB. She was awarded an appreciated prize by the General Union of Arab Painters in 1985 and a medal by the Lebanese government in 1988. More recently, retrospective exhibitions were held at the Beirut Exhibition Center in 2011 and at Tate Modern in 2013.
Georges Doche (1940–2018)
Born in Cairo in 1940, Georges Doche moved to Beirut with his family in the 1950s. Having been encouraged by his father to take over the family pharmaceutical business, he studied chemistry for two years before switching over to philosophy. He simultaneously received training in painting at the Académie Julian, L’École des Arts Decoratifs and L’École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he experimented with the chemical materials permanganate, merbromin and carmine. From 1961, he showed his work in numerous public and private institutions worldwide, including Salon des Artistes Indépendants, Cité Universitaire (1961) in Paris and Sursock Museum’s Salon d’Automne (1966, 1967), Galerie L’Amateur (1967, 1971), Galerie Le Point (1975) and Modulart (1975) in Beirut. In parallel to his artistic career, Doche designed stage costumes and sets. In 1963 and 1964 he designed the costumes and décor for Léonide Massine's Ballets Européens, and in 1966 and 1967 he worked with the publishing house Planète. He also designed jewellery and ran an antiques gallery in Lebanon in the 1980s. His work was featured in the exhibition Le Regard des peintres: 200 ans de peinture libanaise at L’Institut du Monde Arabe in 1989 and has more recently appeared in an exhibition at The Alternative Artspace (Platform 39) in Beirut.
Simone Fattal (b. 1942)
Simone Fattal was born in Damascus in 1942. She studied philosophy at L’École Supérieure des Lettres in Beirut and then at the Université de Paris-Sorbonne in the 1960s. She began painting in 1969 upon returning to Beirut and held her first exhibition at Gallery One in 1973. In 1980, she moved to Sausalito, California with her partner, Etel Adnan. There, she founded the Post-Apollo Press, a publishing house dedicated to experimental poetry, prose and translations. In 1989, she enrolled at the San Francisco Art Institute where she developed a practice of sculpture and ceramics. In the early 2000s, Fattal relocated to France with Adnan. Since 2006, has produced works in Hans Spinner’s ceramic workshop in Grasse while also making a return to painting. Her recent exhibitions include solo shows at the Sharjah Art Foundation (2016), MoMA PS1, Queens, New York (2019) and Whitechapel Gallery, London (2021). Simone Fattal currently lives and works in Paris.
Laure Ghorayeb (b. 1931)
Laure Ghorayeb was born in Deir El Qamar, Lebanon, in 1931. Since 1962 Ghorayeb’s artistic practice has been complemented by a career in cultural journalism. She has worked at several magazines and daily newspapers including Shi’r, L’Orient, Le Jour and Annahar. She has held numerous exhibitions in Beirut, including at Gallery One (1966, 1967, 1971, 1972), Sursock Museum’s Salon D’Automne (1966) and Contact Art Gallery (1974). She has also participated in the Paris, Baghdad and Alexandria Biennials. More recently, she has participated in the exhibitions "Convergence – New Art from Lebanon" at the Katzen Art Center in Washington DC in 2010, and "Rebirth" at the Beirut Exhibition Center in 2011. Her work has been collected by the British Museum, Sursock Museum, Saradar Collection, Dalloul, Barjeel. A monograph of her work was published by Kaph books in 2019. Laure Ghorayeb currently lives and works in Beirut.
Paul Guiragossian (1926–1993)
Paul Guiragossian was born in Jerusalem, Palestine in 1926 to survivors of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. He completed his formative education at the Ratisbonne seminary of the Salesian community of St. Don Bosco in Bethlehem. He was taken on as an apprentice in the making of stained glass and in the 1930s trained in the studio of Italian painter Fernando Manetti. He also learned Arabic calligraphy with a local sheikh. In 1948, Guiragossian’s family left with the Palestinian exodus (al-nakba) and settled in the Trad refugee camp in Bourj Hammoud, a northern suburb of Beirut. Guiragossian worked as an art instructor in local Armenian schools. He received a scholarship from the Italian Cultural Center in Lebanon, after having won prizes at the Salons du Printemps and the Salons d’Automne, to study at the Academia di Belle Arti in Florence in 1957-1958. Later, in 1962, he received a grant from the French government to study at Les Ateliers des maîtres de l’École de Paris. Guiragossian was a prolific artist, participating in over 30 group exhibitions in Beirut alone. Among his solo exhibitions in Beirut were Galerie Alecco Saab (1960, 1962, 1963), Galerie L’Amateur (1967, 1968, 1969), Studio 27 (1972, 1973, 1974) and Modulart (1974). In addition to painting, he designed theatre sets for the playwright Jalal Khoury. He won several prizes, including notably the French Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1984. His work features in numerous collections worldwide.
Farid Haddad (b. 1945)
Farid Haddad was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1945. He enrolled in painting classes at Omar Onsi’s studio. In 1969, he graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from the American University of Beirut. He then earned an MFA in Drawing and Painting from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. His first solo show was held at the John F. Kennedy Center in Beirut in 1971. It was followed by exhibitions at College Hall, American University of Beirut (1971), Contact Art Gallery (1972, 1973), Gallery One (1971, 1972, 1974) and Delta International Art Center (1973, 1975). In 1972 he was the recipient of a Fulbright-Hays grant, which he used to explore lithography and embossment in New York City. He has participated in more than fifty group exhibitions in Europe, the Middle East and North America. His work features in the collections of the Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut; the Saradar Collection, Beirut and The American University of Beirut.
John Hadidian (1934–2015)
John Hadidian was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1934. In 1952 he moved to Los Angeles to finish high school and went on to study Architecture and Engineering with a minor in Fine Arts at the University of California, Berkeley from 1953 to 1957. He returned to Beirut where he participated in the annual autumn salons from 1963 to 1966, in addition to group exhibitions at Gallery One (1967, 1971), Dar El-Fan (1970), the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism (1971) and Delta International Art Space (1975). He received an MFA from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London in 1973. He was a practicing architect and a professor at the American University of Beirut for 12 years. He partnered with the prominent Lebanese architects Tony Maamari and Assem Salam on projects and built private villas. In 1977, he fled civil war in Beirut with his wife, the graphic designer Aza Hadidian, and their children and settled permanently in London, where he worked with the architect Krikor Baytarian before establishing his own practice ARC Design Consultants. He also partnered with the architect Rifat Chadirji and the firm Richard England and Partners, with whom he worked on the Haifa Street urban development project in Baghdad in 1981. He continued painting until his death in 2015.
Jumana Bayazid El-Husseini (1932–2018)
Jumana Bayazid El-Husseini was born in Jerusalem in 1932. She hailed from a prominent Palestinian family. Her grandfather, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, served as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during the British Mandate. Following the 1948 exodus (al-Nakba), her family settled in Lebanon. She studied political science at the Beirut College for Women (now the Lebanese American University) from 1953 to 1957 and enrolled in art classes. She held her first solo show at the German Cultural Center in Beirut (1968) and went on to show at Galerie L’Antiquaire in 1973. In between, she participated in group exhibitions in several venues in Beirut, including Sursock Museum’s salons d’Automne (1965, 1966, 1967), Gallery One (1967), the John F. Kennedy Cultural Center in Beirut (1968) and the Delta International Art Center (1972). After the Israeli invasion of Beirut in 1982, she relocated to Paris where she remained for the rest of her life. She participated in several biennials, including the First Arab Biennial in Baghdad (1974), at the Japanese Society of Afro-Asian Artists in Tokyo (1978), and the Venice Biennale (1979). She continued to show her work in solo and group exhibitions worldwide in venues such as The Smithsonian Institute (1973), Washington DC; United Nations, Geneva; Modern Art Museum, Warsaw (1980); National Museum of Madrid (1980), Museum of Modern Art Tokyo (1988), Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (1989, 1997); Barbican, London (1989). Her work is collected by The Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut and the Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah.
Dorothy Salhab Kazemi (1942–1990)
Dorothy Salhab Kazemi was born in 1942 in Roumieh, Mount Lebanon. She first pursued her studies in art at the Beirut College for Women (BCW, now Lebanese American University) before receiving a BA in English Literature in 1963 from the American University of Beirut. She received further training at the School of Arts and Crafts (Kunsthaandvaerker Skolen) in Copenhagen, Denmark from 1963 to 1964 and then studied with the renowned Danish ceramicist Gutte Eriksen until 1966. Kazemi spent over a decade teaching the ceramic arts, first in Glasgow from 1968 to 1972, then at the Beirut University College (now Lebanese American University) from 1971 to 1982. She held numerous solo exhibitions. In Beirut, she showed at Gallery One (1972), Contact Art Gallery (1974), and Artisans du Liban et d’Orient (1975); in Glasgow at Compass Gallery (1969); in Copenhagen at Kunstindustri Museet (Museum of Art and Design; 1975) and in France at Maison des Jeunes et de la Culture in Riberac (1988) and at Ferme de Lussac in Verteillac (1990). She is honored by the Dorothy Salhab Kazemi Museum in Lebanon.
Helen El-Khal (1923–2009)
Born in Pennsylvania to Lebanese immigrants, Khal settled in Lebanon in 1946. She studied at the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts under the tutelage of César Gemayel from 1946 to 1948. Her first solo exhibition took place in Galerie Alecco Saab in 1960. A prominent figure in the Beirut art scene, she wrote art criticism for the Daily Star newspaper and Monday Morning magazine, among others, and cofounded Gallery One in Beirut in 1963 with her then husband, poet Yusuf al-Khal. She also taught studio art classes at the American University of Beirut between 1967 and 1976 and at the Lebanese American University of Beirut from 1977 to 1980. During the Lebanese Civil War, she worked at Athr Gallery in Amman, Jordan, before moving to Washington DC in the 80s. In 1987, she authored the influential book, The Woman Artist in Lebanon. She returned to Lebanon in the 1990s where she continued to write art criticism. Her work can be found in private and public collections in Lebanon.
Simone Baltaxé Martayan (1925–2009)
Simone Baltaxé Martayan was born in Paris in 1925. She began her studies at the School of Applied Arts in Paris in 1940 but was forced to flee to Lyon in 1942 during WWII where she studied at the School of Fine Arts. She returned to Paris in 1946 where she pursued further training at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in the studio of Jean Souverbie. In 1951, she married Noubar Martayan and followed him to Lebanon where she remained until 1978. She began exhibiting her work in the Salons du Printemps at the UNESCO Palace in 1957. In 1964, she met the weaver George Audi and began producing tapestries, which she showed at the Sursock Museum’s Salons d’Automne. She held solo exhibitions in Beirut at Gallery One (1968) and Modulart (1974). Her work features in the collections of the Sursock Museum in Beirut and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Jamil Molaeb (b. 1948)
Jamil Molaeb was born in the village of Baysour, Mount Lebanon. Before pursuing formal artistic training, he participated in several editions of Sursock Museum’s Salon d’Automne (1966, 1967, 1969). He graduated from the Institute of Fine Arts at the Lebanese University in 1972, where he had studied with the prominent Lebanese artists Shafic Abboud, Paul Guiragossian, Rafic Charaf, Nadia Saikali and Aref El Rayess. He then received a scholarship from the Algerian government to study at L’École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Algiers from 1972 to 1973. His solo exhibitions in the Beirut of the long 1960s included Dar El-Fan (1974) and Contact Art Gallery (1974). He taught on and off at the Lebanese University’s Institute of Fine Arts from 1977 to 2012. He earned an MFA in the fine arts with a focus on engraving from the Pratt Institute in 1987 and then obtained a PhD in arts education from the Ohio State University in 1989. He then taught art classes at the Lebanese American University in Beirut from 1993 to 1999. His work features in the collections of the Jamil Molaeb Museum, Mount Lebanon; the Sursock Museum, Beirut; The Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut; the Saradar Collection, Beirut; The Bahrain Museum, Bahrain; The World Bank, Washington DC.
Fateh al-Moudarres (1922–1999)
Fateh al-Moudarres was born in the countryside of Aleppo, Syria in 1922. He studied at the Academia di Belle Arti in Rome from 1956 and 1960 and then from 1969 to 1972 at L’École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Upon his return to Syria, he taught at the University of Damascus where he was the Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Damascus University until 1993. In addition to his engagement in the visual arts, he authored several collections of poetry and short stories. As a regular participant in the Beirut art scene in the long 1960s, he exhibited at Gallery One (1963, 1964), Contact Art Gallery (1973), Galerie Contemporaine (1974, 1975) and Alec Manoukian Art Center in Beirut (1975). He has also participated in several biennials, including Venice (1961), São Paulo (1963), Seoul (1980) and Cairo (1986). A retrospective of his work was held at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris in 1995. His work features in the collections of the Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut; The British Museum, London; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; the Atassi Foundation, Dubai; the Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; the Jordanian National Gallery of Fine Art, Amman and Darat al-Funun: the Khalid Shoman Collection, Amman.
Nicolas Moufarrege (1947–1985)
Nicolas Abdallah Moufarrege was born in Alexandria, Egypt to Lebanese parents. He earned BA and MA degrees in chemistry in 1965 and 1968 from the American University of Beirut. In 1968, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts on a Fulbright grant and a Harvard University assistantship. He then decided to pursue a career in the arts and returned to Beirut where he held his first solo exhibition at Triad Condas Gallery in 1973. He then relocated to Paris amid civil war and participated in several exhibitions, including Mathaf Gallery, London (1976); Gallery Kamp, Amsterdam (1977); George Zeeny Gallery, Beirut (1979) and Galeries de Varennes/Jacques Damase, Paris (1980). In 1981, Moufarrege moved to New York City and became a central figure in the East Village arts scene. He wrote art criticism for the New York Native, Arts Magazine, Flash Arts and Artforum. From 1982 to 1984 he received a studio through the International Studio Program at PS1, the Institute for Art and Urban Resources (now MoMA PS1). He held two studio exhibitions in 1982 and 1983 and had solo shows at Gabrielle Bryers Gallery (1983) and FUN Gallery (1985). He curated the exhibitions Intoxication (1983) and Ecstasy (1984) at Monique Knowlton Gallery in New York. Moufarrege passed away in 1985 from AIDS-related complications. A major exhibition of his work was curated by Dean Daderko at the Queens Museum, New York in 2019.
Mehdi Moutashar (b. 1943)
Mehdi Moutashar was born in the city of Hilla, Iraq, in 1943. He graduated from Baghdad’s Academy of Fine Arts in 1966 and then attended L’École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1967. Negotiating the work of the Groupe de recherche d’art visual (GRAV), he began to experiment with geometrical abstraction and op art in relation to Islamic aesthetics. In 1973, he participated in a group exhibition at Contact Art Gallery in Beirut and in 1974, he participated in the Paris Biennial. He moved to Arles in the same year and joined L’École Nationale des Arts Decoratifs in Paris as a professor where he remained until 2008. His work has been exhibited in Amman, Arles, Baghdad, Berlin, Damascus, London, Mälmo, Tokyo, Tunis, Sharjah, Washington DC. In 1989, he held a solo show at the Institut du Monde Arabe. In 2018 he won the prestigious Jameel Prize at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Mehdi Moutashar continues to live and work in Arles. He is represented by Lawrie Shabibi Gallery in Dubai and Galerie Denise René in Paris.
Aref El Rayess (1928–2005)
Aref El-Rayess was born in Aley, Mount Lebanon in 1928. Initially a self-taught artist, his first exhibition was held at the American University of Beirut in 1948. He then travelled between Senegal and Paris. He befriended the mime artist Marcel Marceau who left an enduring mark on his practice, and trained in the studios of Fernand Léger, André Lhôte and Ossip Zadkine while also studying at L’Académie de la Grande Chaumière. In 1957, he returned to Lebanon where he established a studio for tapestry production with Roger Caron. He then received a scholarship from the Lebanese government to study in Italy. He spent the following four years between Florence, Rome and Beirut, exhibiting his work in all three cities in venues such as Galerie Alecco Saab and Sursock Museum in Beirut, Galleria Numero in Florence and Palazzio di espoziosione in Rome. From 1965 to 1967, he lived and worked in New York, Mexico City, and London. He returned to Beirut following the Six-Day War in 1967 and co-founded the Fine Arts Department at the Lebanese University and Dar El-Fan (The House of Art and Culture). In addition to painting, he illustrated books and designed theatre sets. He also served as president of the Lebanese Artists Association of Painters and Sculptors for years. He travelled widely in the global south, participating in the al-Wasiti festival in Baghdad, São Paulo Bienial (1967, 1971, 1973) and the Biennial de Paris (1959) and the International Art Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine (1978). Starting in the late 1970s, he worked in Saudi Arabia where he remained until 1987 before returning to Beirut. He moved back to his home and studio in Aley, where he lived until his death in 2005. His work is included in the collections of the National Museum of Fine Arts, Algiers; the Sursock Museum, Beirut; Saradar Collection, Beirut; Centre Pompidou, Paris, in addition to numerous private collections worldwide.
Mahmoud Said (1897–1964)
Mahmoud Said was born in 1987 to a prominent landowning family in Alexandria, Egypt. His father, Mohamed Said Pasha (1863-1928) served as Egypt’s Prime Minister from 1910 to 1914. He trained with the Italian painters Amelia Daforno Casonato and Arturo Zanieri before leaving the arts to pursue a career in law. He graduated from the Law School in Cairo in 1918 and then spent his summers attending the workshops of the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. In 1920, he studied drawing at L'Académie Julian. He then returned to Egypt where he was appointed first as a lawyer at the Mixed Courts of Mansoura in 1927 and then as a judge in Alexandria in 1929. In 1940, he exhibited with the Egyptian surrealist Art et Liberté group in Cairo. In 1947, he quit his legal career to commit full-time to his artistic practice. Said visited Beirut frequently. He exhibited in Cairo, Paris and in several editions of the Venice Biennale. His works feature in the collections of the Mahmoud Said Museum, Alexandria; the Museum of Modern Egpytian Art, Cairo; The Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha and the Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah.
Adel al-Saghir (1930–2020)
Adel al-Saghir was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1930. He studied at the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts from 1953 to 1957 and trained in the studio of Maryette Charlton at the American University of Beirut. He was later granted a scholarship to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In the 1970s, he taught at the Lebanese University’s Institute of Fine Arts. He held solo exhibitions in Beirut at the Saint Georges Hotel (1965) and Studio 27 (1973) and participated annually in Sursock Museum’s Salon d’Automne, as well as in group exhibitions at the John F. Kennedy Center (1968) and Gallery One (1967, 1971). Abroad, he participated in the Paris Biennial (1963) and in the São Paulo Biennale (1967). In 1973, Adel al-Saghir permanently moved to the USA. His work features in the collections of the Sursock Museum, Beirut; World Bank, Washington D.C. and the Riyadh International Airport.
Hashim Samarchi (b. 1939)
Hashim Samarchi was born in 1939 in Mosul, Iraq. He studied painting and drawing at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad from 1954 to 1957, and then at the Academy of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad from 1962 to 1966. In between, he taught drawing in local schools. His work was exhibited in a group exhibition of Iraqi artists at the Sursock Museum in 1965. A scholarship from the Gulbenkian Foundation led him to pursue a fellowship in the graphic arts in Lisbon from 1967 to 1969. After returning to Baghdad in 1969, he co-founded the New Vision group with Dia al-Azzawi, Ismail Fattah, Muhammad Muhraddin, Saleh al-Jumaie and Rafa al-Nasiri. In the 1970s, he illustrated posters and poetry books and then worked with the Iraqi Ministry of Information on the cultural magazine Afaq Arabiyya. In 1981, he moved to London and worked in the studio of Dia al-Azzawi for the better part of a decade. He has since stopped producing art. His work has been collected by the Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut; The Ibrahimi Collection, Amman and Baghdad and the Sultan Gallery, Kuwait.
Nadia Saikali (b. 1936)
Nadia Saikali was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1936. She graduated from the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts in 1956 and then studied at L’Académie de la Grande Chaumière and L’École des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. She trained in the studios of Henri Goetz, Michel Durand and Donnot Seydoux. She lived in Glasgow for brief period before returning to Beirut in the mid-1950s. She participated in the annual Salon du Printemps at the UNESCO Palace and the Salon d’Automne at Sursock Museum in the long 1960s. She held solo exhibitions in Beirut at the John F. Kennedy Center (1967), the L’Orient newspaper headquarters (1970), the Goethe Institute (1972) and Contact Art Gallery (1972). In 1967, she participated in the São Paulo Biennale. She permanently moved to France in 1979 amid civil war. Her work features in the collections of the Sursock Museum, Beirut; Society of Lebanese Architects and Engineers, Beirut; The Nadia Tueni Foundation, Beit Mery, Lebanon; The Chase Manhattan Bank, New York; The City of Paris, the National Fund of Contemporary Art, Paris and The Royal Institute Galleries, London
Mona Saudi (1945–2022)
Mona Saudi was born in Amman, Jordan in 1945. She moved to Beirut in 1962 and held her first exhibition at the Café de la Presse in 1963 before leaving for Paris shortly afterwards to study sculpture at L’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. She joined the atelier Colamarini where she learned to carve and spent time in the sculpture studios of Carrara, Italy. She left Paris for Amman in 1968 where she produced the book In Time of War: Childen Testify before returning to Beirut in 1969. She joined the art department of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and produced political posters and illustrated books for writers, including Ghassan Kanafani. She held solo exhibitions at Gallery One (1973) and Galerie Contemporaine (1975). She left Beirut for Amman in 1983 amid civil war. She returned to Beirut in the 1990s where she remained until her death in 2022. Her work is held in the collections of the Sursock Museum, Beirut; The Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut; National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.; The British Museum, London; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE; Darat al-Funun: The Khalid Shoman Foundation, Amman and Asilah Museum, Morocco.
Juliana Seraphim (1934–2005)
Juliana Seraphim was born in Jaffa in 1934 where she lived until the 1948 Palestinian exodus (al-Nakba) when her family sought refuge in Lebanon. Having been deeply affected by the event, she worked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Beirut in 1952 for several years. She began painter under the tutelage of the Lebanese painter Jean Khalifé and exhibited her work in his studio. She then enrolled at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts and in 1959, she spent a year in Florence before moving to Madrid to study at the Royal Academy of San Fernando on a scholarship in 1960. She went on to exhibit widely in Beirut and abroad and represented Lebanon in three international biennials: Alexandria (1962), Paris (1963, 1969) and Sāo Paulo (1965). During and after the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), she shuttled between Paris and Beirut until her death in 2005. Her work features in private and public collections worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of New York; Museum of the city of Viarregio; Musée du suréalisme, Paris; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman; Sursock Museum, Beirut; the Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut; and the Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah.
Cici Sursock (1923–2015)
Cici Sursock (née Justina Tommaseo) was born in 1923 in Split, Yugoslavia. Her father was a diplomat who relocated with his family regularly. Sursock spent her childhood in Vienna and then studied at the School of Fine Arts in Belgrade, where she took painting classes with Ivan Tabaković. She then joined her parents in Ankara where she attended The School of Applied Arts and trained in the studios of Nurettin Ergüven and Turgut Ziam. She then relocated with her family to Tehran momentarily before moving to Cairo in 1944 where she worked as a designer for the British Ministry of Information. In 1947, she married the Lebanese aristocrat Habib Sursock and lived in the Royal Guézireh Palace. In 1964, the Sursocks lost their property under the Nasserist regime and settled in Beirut, Lebanon until 1978. She held solo exhibitions at the Phoenicia Hotel (1965), the Vendôme Hotel (1966) and the St. Georges Hotel (1974). She participated in the Salon d’Automne at the Sursock Museum in 1967, 1969 and 1974, as well as in other group exhibitions at the John F. Kennedy Center (1968, 1969), The German Cultural Center (1972), The Delta International Art Center (1972) and Galerie Contemporaine (1974). Her work features in the collection of the Sursock Museum in Beirut.
Khalil Zgaib (1911–1975)
Born in 1911 in Mount Lebanon, Khalil Zgaib was a barber by trade and a self-taught painter. He held his first exhibition in 1955 at the American University of Beirut where he caught the attention of prominent figures, such as the French archaeologist and director of the Institut français du Proche-Orient, Henri Seyrig. He went on to exhibit widely in Lebanon, participating annually in the Salons du Printemps held at the UNESCO Palace under the patronage of the Lebanese Ministry of Culture, and in the salons d’Automne at Sursock Museum. He won a prize at the former in 1956; at the latter in 1968. Zgaib held frequent exhibitions in art spaces and commercial galleries in Beirut, including Galerie Alecco Saab (1961), Gallery One (1963, 1964, 1971), Salle de L’Orient (1965), and the Delta International Art Center (1972). He also participated in several international exhibitions, including the Bienal de Sāo Paulo (1967). Zgaib was tragically killed in 1975 during the Lebanese Civil War. His work is featured in the collections of the Louvre Museum, Paris; the Sursock Museum, Beirut; the Saradar Collection, Beirut; and the Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut.