November 6, 2014 By Navas Machingal

Artist, from the Mount

Chafic Abboud’s paintings are a manifesto for freedom, colour, light and joy, as well as being a permanent bridge between the art scenes of France and Lebanon and that of Lebanon and the Middle East. Chafic Abboud was deeply attached to Lebanon, its landscapes, its light and his own childhood memories. Abboud’s grandmother was the village Hakawati, village’s story-teller, who left an indelible mark on him at a very early age. His works have been showcased worldwide, exhibited side by side with some of the most important names of the Parisian art scene and have had a strong influence on Beirut’s cultural and artistic life. Growing up in Beirut, Abboud and his family spent summer vacations in the mountains of Lebanon.

Chafic Abboud left for Paris at the age of 21 in 1947; the city of lights was a suitable destination for the artist from the mount. He attended the National School of Fine Arts of Paris (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts de Paris), where he had particular preference for works by Pierre Bonnard, Roger Bissière and Nicolas de Staël. These made such an impact on his life that Lebanese artist became popular and transformed his own style of art to Parisian abstract art (abboudian transfiguration), which was simultaneously traditional and modern, pagan and sacred. He spent most of his life in Paris and was well-known for his interest in experimenting with a wide variety of media, producing paintings, sculptures, carpets, tapestries, lithographs, posters, terracotta totem poles and even a sundouq al-ferji, or wooden storyteller’s box, for his daughter Christine. His first personal exhibition as figurative painter took place in Beirut in 1950, whereas his first solo exhibition as an abstract painter was held in Paris in 1955.

A decade after the Abboud’s death at the age of 77, his work has lost none of its relevance or appeal. Belonging to a Lebanese Arab modern culture, Abboud’s works had a significant impact on Arab Nahda, a modern and cultural renaissance which was initially driven by 19th century Lebanese writers and thinkers.

A selection of Chafic Abboud’s nudes is on show at Hamra’s Agial Art Gallery until Nov. 14.


La Souris (The Mouse)
Bringing nearly forgotten folktale book “La Souris” by Chafik Abboud back to life for new generation, the Labanese publisher Dar Onboz is reported to have re-released the work in a bilingual French and Arabic edition. La Souris was the artist’s attempt on the local folktales that he claimed were the inspiration behind much of his artistic output. While a student in Paris he wrote and illustrated the book “La Souris” in 1954. La Souris, the tale of a mouse, reveals the story of a couple who are unable to bear a child.The wife prays to god and soon becomes pregnant, give birth to 1000 mice. The father kills them,but the next morning the couple discovers that one mouse has hidden under the sofa and survived. She’s so sweet that the couple instantly falls in love with her. Nadine Touma will perform Chafik Abboud’s “La Souris” at the Salon du Livre, BIEL, at 5 p.m. Nov. 8, at the Librairie El Bourj stand.
La souris

Folktale book “La Souris” of Chafik Abboud, re-released by Dar Onboz



Visit to see Abboud’s gallery.


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