Aref el Rayess
- Aref el Rayess
- Rose Gothique (Gothic Rose from the Time - Man - Machine Series)
- signed and dated Rayess '65; titled on the reverse and on the label affixed to the reverse
- oil, acrylic and sand on wood
- 122 by 60cm.; 48 by 23 3/4 in.
Private Collection, Venice (acquired directly from the above in 1983)
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 1995
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Holding his first exhibition in 1948, El Rayess spent most of his adolescence traveling throughout Africa and later settling in Senegal for a short period. This move had a strong influence on the artist, with Western African folkloric and mystical motifs becoming reoccurring themes in works of this period. On his return to Paris to study at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, the artist continued to explore his experiences of Africa through his artwork, but this time through the practice of etching. Rayess moved to Florence two years later on a scholarship provided by the Italian government. In the years 1957 to 1960, El Rayess worked between Lebanon, Florence and Rome whilst studying Phoenician, Assyrian, Sumerian and Pharaonic art, and his interest in the ancient Semitic art forms began to emerge in his oeuvre. This would come to be known as his ‘Sand Period’. In 1963, Rayess left Italy for Lebanon, where he truly flourished as an artist and strengthened his relationship with his native land.
Sotheby’s is pleased to offer an early work by this grand Lebanese master Aref El Rayess titled Rose Gothique from 1965. This outstanding painting reveals a critical moment in the artists’ oeuvre alluding to the tangibility of the natural landscapes of Lebanon. His earth-toned canvases are textured, raw and mysterious, as if they are the sand-covered vestiges of an ancient past. Sharing the belief that mysticism connects the man to the natural world, in the words of Lebanese philosopher Mikhael Nouaymeh who had been an inspiration for El-Rayess, the present work radiates in this sense of serenity and sanctity of nature and the stunning beauty it brings about.