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Aref El Rayess, Paintings, drawings, collages, sculptures 1948–2005
Lire aussi : HOMMAGE À L’ŒUVRE D’AREF EL RAYESS (1928-2005)
Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut is delighted to present the first extensive retrospective of Aref el Rayess (1928 - 2005) curated by Catherine David.
Born 1928 in Aley, Aref El Rayess started painting at the age of eleven. In 1948 his first exhibition is held in Beirut with the support of the journalist Arlette Levy, the artist Georges Cyr, the art critic Victor Hakim and the Head of the French Institute of Archaeology Henry Seyrig. From 1948 to 1957 El Rayess travelled between Senegal and Paris where he studied art at the Academy of Fine Arts, and the free studios of Fernand Leger, Andre Lhôte, and La Grande Chaumière among others. In 1957 he returned to Lebanon and opened a studio and an atelier of Aubusson tapestries with the Canadian Roger Caron. In 1959 after an exhibition at the Italian Cultural Centre he was offered a scholarship to study in Italy. He spent four productive years between Florence and Rome; and in 1963 the Lebanese government commissioned him to produce two sculptures to represent Lebanon at the New York World Fair. El Rayess spent two years in the USA meeting with expressionists and intellectuals. In 1967 he returned to Lebanon, marked by the events in the Arab World. He was a Founding member of the Fine Arts Department at the Lebanese University where he taught, and Dar el Fan with his close friend Janine Rubeiz.
Since then, El Rayess organized, attended and participated in conferences and exhibitions on politics and arts in the Arab World.
In 1972 he published a manifesto titled “With Whom and Against Whom”. In 1976 he was invited to Algeria where he produced a series of drawings depicting the Lebanese civil war, published as the book “The Road to Peace”; and in 1978 he participated in the International Art Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine. After that he started working in Saudi Arabia where he produced around 13 sculptures between Jeddah, Tabuk and Riyad. He stayed in Jeddah till 1987 and returned to Lebanon in 1992 where he lived until 2005. Rayess was a prolific artist, working with different mediums and exploring various treatments of painting and sculpting. He was also a writer and some of his writings were published between 1972 and 2002.