Lebanese sculptor Anachar Basbous opens a new museum

The new private museum and workshop of famous Lebanese sculptor Anachar Basbous opens its doors to the public on Saturday.

Mohtaraf Anachar Basbous, located in the artist’s home town of Rachana, has a collection of around 50 works spanning the artist’s career – from his first sculpture at the age of 10 to the present day – and also renders tribute to the sculptural works of his late father. , Michel Basbous.

Designed by architect Jawdat Arnouk, the building is a raw concrete Brutalist structure embedded in the mountainous landscape overlooking the sea.

Surrounded by an olive grove, Arnouk and Basbous wanted the museum to reflect the history and natural beauty of the land, treating the building itself like a sculpture.

“We chose brutalist concrete for the whole building, a unique material, so that the sculptures would not compete with their surroundings and could breathe,” says Basbous. The National.

“Rachana as a village overlooks the sea, so I wanted to reflect that in the building, although it was a bit architecturally difficult to have a floating end of the building, with no pillars.

“This land already had a history, so we wanted to create a building that would have its own presence but also co-exist with the landscape and historical elements.”

“To plant the olive trees, the villagers removed all the stones and piled them in a single pile [rejmeh in Arabic].

“This land I bought 10 years ago had the biggest rejmeh in Rachana, with a flat area above it, which the locals had used as a baydar [threshing floor] – the place where the wheat crop was threshed to separate the kernels from their shells.

The original rejmeh was remodeled into an earthly work of art by Basbous to echo the terraced ledges of the olive trees – using them as a platform to display some of his carvings – while retaining the flat top of the baydar. A staircase temporarily installed by the builders during the construction phase was then cast in concrete to preserve the element.

In 1997, Unesco named Rachana a global outdoor sculpture village because of the number of sculptors who live there, displaying their works on the street side to attract customers. In keeping with this tradition, many works by Basbous are found outside the museum and can be seen as passers-by pass by.

Born in Lebanon in 1969, Basbous studied at the National School of Applied Arts and Crafts in Paris (Ensaama) before returning to Beirut in 1992 and opening his sculpture studio in Rachana.

Over the years he produced a variety of contemporary sculptures in stone and wood – influenced by the craftsmanship of his father – and dabbled in mosaic work before eventually finding his own style, creating large sculptures in metal in corten steel and aluminium.

First sculpture by Anachar Basbous made at the age of 10.  Aluminum, 1979. Photo: Maghie Ghali

Basbous describes the piece he created when he was 10 as a sort of foreshadowing of his now-iconic style of work, which took decades to solidify. Unlike the smooth classical-style sculptures made by his father and uncles, Basbous is now known for his fragmented or deconstructed geometric and spherical shapes in metal.

“I was 10 years old, had no training or teachings yet, and my father’s sculptures were very different from that,” he says, looking at his first creation.

“I often wonder why I created something like this. The idea of ​​decomposition and reconstruction, which took me 40 years to arrive at, is very present in this first piece that I created.

“I look at it and imagine that I could have created it only a few years ago, but in reality this piece was a look into my future or the seed of creation planted inside an artist, even as early as his youngest age.

“After all my studies, my family’s heritage and their artistic styles exhausted me; I discovered that I was coming back to something that had already been inside me since I was 10 years old. It’s a full circle.

When his father died two years later, Basbous did not create another sculpture until he was 20 and felt pressure to continue the family legacy, with many works he created emulating the style of his father until 2012, when he started to explore deconstructed forms again.

“For me, the sphere is the most complete shape and most of my work is a derivation of the spheres,” says Basbous.

“The spherical shape is everywhere. It is in the cosmos, our universe; it’s atoms, molecules, everyone from the extremely small to the extremely large. So it’s universal.

“During my first exhibition in 2012, I did a deconstruction of a square to create movement and I think that after that everything happened in front of me.

“The piece is now in the front of the museum.”

Anyone wishing to visit the museum can do so by appointment and can even benefit from a personal visit from the artist if he is available. Basbous intends to continue creating from his studio in Rachana and is working on a new exhibition, which will be displayed in his new museum when completed.

Updated: September 24, 2022, 06:42

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