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Aref El Rayess

I. Biography

Born in Aley (1928), Mount Lebanon, Aref Rayess started his career as a self-taught artist exhibiting for the first time in 1948. He lived in Africa for many years during which he traveled between Senegal and Paris. In Paris, he joined the studios of Fernand Léger, André Lhote, Marcelle Marso and Ossip Zadkine while studying at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. In 1957, he returned to Lebanon, but left again for Florence in 1959 with a scholarship from the Italian government. From 1960 to 1963, he lived in Rome where he went on studying and exhibiting. In 1963, he returned to Lebanon.

Rayess participated in many group shows including the biennales of Sao Paulo (1960) and Bagdad (1974); the Unesco exhibition in Montreal (1978); the Mall Galleries, London (1986) and the Salons of the Sursock Museum, Beirut (1961, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968). He has held more than fifteen one-man shows in Lebanon.

Internationally, his Individual exhibitions include: the Poliani Gallery, Rome (1959); Numero Gallery, Florence (1959); D'Arcy Gallery, New York; Excelsior Gallery, Mexico (1964); the Rodin Museum, Paris (1966); a retrospective of his works, 1957-1968, at the National Museum of Damascus (1969); Ornina Gallery, Damascus (1974), Gallery Rasim, Algeria (1976) and in Venezuela.

He was commissioned by the Lebanese government to design and execute a tapestry presented to the Unesco centre in Paris. The Lebanese government also requested him to create two sculptures to represent Lebanon at the World Fair in New York.

Aref Rayess won several awards in Lebanon. These include: the Lebanese Ministry of National Education Award for the 1955 spring exhibition, the Unesco Prize for the Spring Salon of 1957, the Ministry of Public Works First and Second Prize for
Sculpture (1963), the Sursock Museum Grand Prix de Sculpture (1965-66) for different works exhibited and their First Prize for Sculpture (1966-67) as well as the Ministry of Tourism First and Second Prizes (1966).

President of the Lebanese association of painters and sculptors, Rayess taught for many years at the Lebanese University and the American Lebanese University. Since the start of the war in Lebanon, he was been living in Saudi Arabia and was appointed as the city of Jeddah's Art Consultant for many years. He has been commissioned by the Saudi Arabian government to produce several sculptures. One of the most outstanding is that of the stylized name of Allah. Designed by him and built in Italy from Aluminum, it stands twenty seven meters high in Palestine Square in Jeddah. Among the artist's recent works is a series of oil paintings capturing the nature and feeling of the Arabian desert.

The Artist has passed away in January 2005.

II. Artist Statement

"Man is a unity that embodies both the means and the goals...
Art is the unification with the beauty of love and altruism that seeks continuous emancipation throughout life.
It is the incarnation of converging imaginations, ideas and impressions...
From the perfection that Allah created both inside us and in nature.Thus, the art of sculpture is the esthetic manifestation of silence, worship, sereneness and listening"

Aref El Rayess - Aley 1999

III.(Biographie in French):

Aref Al Rayess a enseigné à l'institut des Beaux-Arts durant 18 ans. De 1948 a 1998 il a présenté ses oeuvres dans plus de 30 expositions individuelles et collectives au Liban el a l'étranger, notamment:

- Le Salon du Printemps.
- New York 1974.
- La 1ere Biennale des artistes arabes a Bagdad.
- Ministère du tourisme Beyrouth.
- L'association des Artistes Libanais, Peintres et Sculpteurs.

En 1985 il réalise des sculptures monumentales. Il a enseigné a l'université Américaine de Beyrouth.

Aref El Rayess est autodidacte jusqu'a sa première exposition individuelle en 1948 au West Hall de L'université Américaine et la salle de l'UNESCO a Beyrouth.

Il fréquente l'atelier de Fernand Léger, André Lhote, Zadkin, Friedlander ainsi que l'atelier de pantomime d'Etienne Decoux. Cette période est marquée par l'inspiration de l'Afrique. A son retour au Liban, le gouvernent libanais lui commande des sculpteurs pour la foire internationale
de New York, il est invité à Mexico ou il organise une exposition.

Il se déplace ensuite entre le Liban L'Italie et L'Arabie Saoudite, ou il réalise plusieurs sculptures monumentales. Il reste en Arabie Saoudite jusqu'en 1990, puis retourne au Liban.

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Expositions individuelles:

1948 - Université Américaine de Beyrouth
1954 - Dakar, Sénégal
1957 - Centre Culturel Italien, Beyrouth
1958 - Galerie Saab, Beyrouth
1958 -1961 - Rome, Florence, Venise
1964 - Galerie La Licorne, Bey
1964 - Galerie Drassy , New York
1965 - Galerie Excelsior, Mexique
1967 - Galerie One, Bey
1968 - L'Orient-Le jour, bey
1969 et 1970 - Dar el Fan, Bey
1971 - Galerie Manoug, Bey
1972 - Galerie One ,bey
1973 - Gal, Contact, bey
1975 - Gal, Le Point, bey
1976 - Gal Racim, Algerie
1978 - Exposition Caracas, Venezuela
1979 - Gal Epreuve d'artiste, Beyrouth
1993-1995 - Centre Culturel français
1996 - Galerie Janine Rubaiz, Beyrouth
1997 - Gallery world of art, Beyrouth

Expositions collectives:

1948 - UNESCO
1955-1957 - Ministère de l'éducation
1961-1966 - Musée Sursock, Beyrouth
1960 - Biennale Sao Paolo, Brésil
1967 - Biennale Musée Rodin, Paris
1968 - Exposition Internationale, New York
1974 - 1ere Biennale des artiste arabes, Bagdad
1979 - Ministère du tourisme, Beyrouth
1980 - UNESCO, Beyrouth

Collections privées

Musée du Tourisme de l'éducation Nationale (30 huile es 8 sculptures) , Liban
Musée Sursock (5 pièces) Liban
Musée d'Art Contemporain, Syrie
Musée d'Art Contemporain, Irak
Musée National, Algérie

Prix divers de 1955 a nos jours, au Liban et Italie

Musée National, Kuwait
Musée National, Jordanie
Musée de Jeddah, Arabie Saoudite
Musée de Tabouk, Arabie Saoudite
Musée Old Hundred, New York, USA
Musée Roosevelt, Philadelphie, USA
Palais de l'UNESCO, Paris, France

One of Rayess' masterpieces

►► Some of the artist's artwork
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