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Abboud Shafic

Abboud Shafic

Shafic Abboud (1926-2004) is one of the major figures of Lebanese and Arab contemporary art of the second half of the XXth century. Born in Lebanon, he was attracted by drawing and painting at a very young age. Shafic Abboud interrupted in 1946 his engineering studies  and applied to the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA). He left for Paris in 1947 where he frequently attended in 1949 Andre Lhote’s studio, in 1951 Fernand Leger’s classes then from 1952 to 1956, as an independent student, he attended the National School of Fine Arts  of Paris (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts de Paris). He integrated perfectly the artistic life, as well as numerous artists coming from around the world after World War II, in quest of the modernity embodied by the great French masters that have made the XXth century  and among whom Shafic Abboud admired the most Pierre Bonnard, Roger Bissiere and Nicolas de Stael.

Shafic Abboud was immersed since his tender age by stories and images conveyed by the colorful popular culture of villages of Mount Lebanon. His eye was influenced by icons and Byzantine rites of his Church. Later, his intellectual formation was marked by writings, debates, struggles and ideals that accompanied the Arab Nahda, this modern and anticlerical Renaissance. Shafic Abboud imposed his artistic originality and was acknowledged by critics as a painter belonging to the Paris School (Ecole de Paris). He was not a painter of one image, repeated, stereotypical in multiple variations. He was constantly seeking and working on series : les Saisons, les Fenêtres, les Ateliers, les Chambres, les Nuits, les temperas sur le Monde de l’enfance, les temperas des Poètes arabes anciens, les Robes de Simone… He never put forward his commitments, but his work testified a great political and social sensibility to the world goings on.

In Beirut, during the years 1950/70, he was a major actor of the cultural and artistic life of this Arab Middle-East city. In 1961, he won Victor Choquet Prize (Ministry of Finance, Paris) and in 1964, the Sursock Museum Prize (Beirut, Lebanon). His exhibition in 1994, which marked his return to the cedar country after 15 years of war and 17 years of absence, constituted a media event and a big commercial success.  In Paris, he was the first Arab painter to make artist’s  books, exhibiting regularly with the biggest names of the artistic scene and participating to the First Paris Biennale  in 1959, then at the FIAC, in 1983. Shafic Abboud presented about fifty solo exhibitions in Lebanon, France, Europe (Germany, Netherlands, Italy), United States and he participated to numerous collective exhibitions (exhibitions, fairs, biennale, FIAC). He was a comity member to the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles. A retrospective exhibition for the artist was curated by Claude Lemand at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris in 2011. Another retrospective initiated by Claude Lemand and curated by Nadine Begdache and Saleh Barakat will be presented at the Beirut Exhibition Center in May 2012.

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