This volume devoted to the painting and cultural heritage of Lebanese artist Gebran Tarazi (1944–2010) presents a body of work unlike any other: the work of a hermit absorbed in geometric art, engaged in an unrelenting quest for a lost territory encompassing identity, politics and aesthetics. Here the most illuminating, emblematic outcome of this spiritual ascesis – the paintings from between 1988 and 2003, intended as conceptual, symphonic series – is presented alongside his other works: graphic works, decorated chests and mirrors. His “seasons” are geometric and chromatic variations that explore the square format and the traditionnal pattern of Qayem-Nayem which geo-cultural ramifications reflect the influences of Damascus, Jerusalem, Rabat and Beirut.

While interacting with European geometrical abstraction and modernism (especially Josef Albers and the Bauhaus), Tarazi nonetheless pursued his personal Mediterranean utopia and its implicit untangling of the knot that was the war in Lebanon. This book offers an overview of an oeuvre at once analytical and surreal, rigorous and dreamlike. More broadly, it reveals an intellectual journey which, in addition to its dimension as a mystical quest, serves as a key resource not only for art history, but also for literary studies and “post-Orientalist” thinking. The catalogue of works is accompanied by extracts from the artist’s writings, journal, letters and critical texts.

Published at the occasion of the Gebran Tarazi exhibition, Saleh Barakat Gallery, Beirut (24 March-6 May 2017) .

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