Aref El Rayess, Untitled (2198), 1988, Painting, 122 x 76 cm
Courtesy of the artist and the Aref El Rayess Foundation
Sfeir-Semler Gallery, in Hamburg and Beirut, concentrates on international contemporary art with an emphasis on conceptual and minimal art. The gallery has been on the cutting edge of art production in the Arab World, nurturing a unique cross-cultural link between East and West contemporary art.
Bert de Beul
Dineo Seshee Bopape
Ian Hamilton Finlay
Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Jasmina Metwaly & Philip Rizk
Barbara Camilla Tucholski
Born in Aley in 1928, Aref El Rayess starts painting at the age of eleven. In 1948 his first exhibition is held at the West Hall AUB 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 Archeology Henry Seyrig. From 1948 to 1957 El Rayess travels between Senegal and Paris where he studies art at the Academy of Fine Arts, and the free studios of Fernand Leger, Andre Lhote, and La Grande Chaumiere among others. Interested also in acting he gets involved in Pantomime with the mime artist Marcel Marceau. In 1957 he returns to Lebanon and opens a studio and an atelier of Aubusson tapestries with the Canadian Roger Caron. In 1959 after an exhibition at the Italian Cultural Centre he is offered a scholarship to study in Italy. He spends four productive years between Florence and Rome; and in 1963 the Lebanese government commissions him to produce two sculptures to represent Lebanon at the New York World Fair. El Rayess discovers then the USA and spends two years meeting with impressionists and intellectuals. In 1967 he returns to Lebanon, marked by the events in the Arab World. He participates in founding the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Lebanese University where he teaches, and Dar el Fan with his close friend Janine Rubeiz. Since then, El Rayess organizes, attends and participates in conferences and exhibitions on politics and arts in the Arab World. In 1976 he is invited to Algeria where he produces a series of drawings on the Lebanese civil war, published as the book The Road to Peace. After that he starts working in Saudi Arabia where he produces around 13 sculptures between Jeddah, Tabouk and Riyad. He stays in Jeddah till 1987 and returns definitely to Lebanon in 1991. For the 2020 edition of Dubai Modern, we would like to present a selection of works spanning from the 60’s to the 80’s.