" I am in perpetual conflict
between ignorance and knowledge. "
Born in 1921, in Rachana precisely. Michel Basbous, son of a priest of a tiny village in the north of Lebanon was amongst the first students to enroll at the newly founded “Academie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts”(ALBA) in 1945 and one of its first graduates. Three years on, and after his ?rst public success in the capital, he left to Paris in 1950 were he joined the atelier of Zadkine. His master there, Gaumont, asked him the purpose of his stay in Paris, and Basbous answered, deadpan, ‘To learn sculpture.’
Gaumont replied: ‘Lebanon, the Mediterranean, Phoenicia, Assyria, Babel, Egypt… You have them all. What are you doing here? Go back to your country.’
Ultimately, Basbous would obey this sage stricture. But not before having accomplished much in Paris.
Upon his return in 1956, and after a short stay in Beirut, he took the surprising decision to move back to his native village Rachana. Back then, Rachana was not even accessible by asphalted roads.
" was a new experience for me. As I did not have a workshop in the village,
I placed my works on the side of the road and started working in the open air . "
Michel spared no efforts to nurture a public interested in the arts. So he created the festival of Rachana in 1960, mixing theater, music, poetry with sculpture and painting, in the hope of motivating people to interact with different kinds of cultural activities. He invited famous ?gures like César, Jack Lang, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Hasan Fathi and Adonis just to name a few.
He fought fercely to disseminate sculptures in public spaces, government buildings, municipal gardens... He spared no efforts to export his art to the world, multiplying trips to the USA, Japan, France and elsewhere. He experimented in different genres, styles, sizes, media from the classical marble, stone, wood, bronze, alloys to the more experimental ?ber glass, resin,cement.
He also believed that the world will discover him one day as a gifted painter as he was known as a talented sculptor. He was a charismatic man, larger than life.
Michel Basbous, pioneer of modern sculpture, especially monumental in his country and the Arab world. His artworks are found at Oxford Museum in London, British Museum London, UENO Museum in Japan, the Modern Art Museum in France as well as in many other public places in Lebanon and abroad.