Shafic Abboud (1926-2004)

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Shafic Abboud was born in Mhaidseh, Lebanon in 1926. He studied fine arts in Lebanon and in France, where he eventually settled in 1947. His work has been on exhibit since the 1950s and is still shown today in Lebanon and throughout Europe. He has received several prestigious awards, and some of his work was bought by the French State in the 1990s. He is one of the rare Lebanese artists who acquired international recognition and whose work has contributed to the modernization of the School of Art in Paris.

Abboud’s painting is sometimes perceived as Naturalist Abstract because of his colorful and warm compositions. He once wrote in a letter that he wants to tell stories through his form of narrative painting. Abboud, however, does not so much tell stories as he does allow himself to be heard. His does not depict extraordinary adventures or fairy tales, but events of his daily life. In ‘Saint Baleche,’ for example, he takes pleasure in conveying how he felt while visiting the area.

Abboud is, above all, a colorist. He knows how to make his colors reach their maximum potential on a large scale, but is also able to bring them to vibrant life on a tiny piece of paper. Like Renoir, Vuillard, and Bonnard, Abboud paints as if he is an eye – he sees color and decomposes it to light, so that each canvas is dressed in illumination.

One day before his death in 2004, he sent a telegram to an old friend stating: ‘Painting Still Possible,’ signed Shafic Abboud. It was a categorical and reassuring claim that he kept throughout all his years of work. What can be said of Abboud is that not only did he stay loyal to painting, but he also confirmed the stability of its power and its limitless magnitude.

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