Gebran Tarazi

Born in Damascus, Gebran Tarazi (1944-2010) is heir to a major tradition of craftsmen, antiquaries and decorators established over four generations throughout the Near East. After spending his teenage years in Morocco, which he experienced like a golden age, he returned to Lebanon in 1959. He represents, like few others, the figure of the artist-artisan, transfigured by the break made with the purely artisanal tradition, from which he broke free in the 1970s, thanks to his literary research (close to the Nouveau Roman), and, from the 1980s onwards, his pictorial research directed towards an ‘oriental abstraction’, which relentlessly explored the classical motif of the Qayem-Nayem. His pictures painted between 1988 and 2003, conceived as conceptual and symphonic sets, exhausted all the geometric and chromatic variations, developing in a usually square space: an ornamental maze whose geo-cultural ramifications move equally through Damascus, Jerusalem, Rabat and Beirut. He is also the author of a novel, Le Pressoir à olives (L’Harmattan, 1996).