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Aref El-Rayess

 (1928 - 2005)
Aref El-Rayess was active/lived in Lebanon, Italy.  Aref El Rayess is known for figurative, abstract painting.

Aref El-Rayess

Biography from Bonhams Bond Street

Born in Aley, Mount Lebanon in 1928, Aref  Rayess started his career as a self-taught artist.   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 output is so diverse and varied, it is impossible to attach his oeuvre to any given movement or artistic style.  A complete and consummate artist, Rayess refused to be bounded by the structures of artistic classification, instead choosing to experiment, innovate, and pursue his artistic agenda with total freedom.  Deeply devoted to the Druze faith, a syncretic, philosophical religion which emphasizes spiritual knowledge and the oneness of man and the universe above dogma, Rayess work is imbued with a sense of spiritual freedom and mysticism.  In abstraction, the artist blurs the boundaries of landscape, shape and geometry. 

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). 

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.  The Artist passed away in January 2005.

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About  Aref El-Rayess

Born:  1928 - Aley, Lebanon
Died:   2005
Known for:  figurative, abstract painting