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ALFRED BASBOUS RACHANA
Rachana,
The Story

Alfred Basbous garden and
house at Rachana


In Aramaic, Rachana means « Me, the Head ». Bordered by the sea to the West, the famous castle of Smar Jbeil to the East and the Madfoun River to the South. The village of Rachana dominates all the other hills, like a lighthouse. Follow the coastal road until reaching Madfoun bridge, turn right, stay straight allowing the olive trees to welcome you… You will reach Rachana in few minutes.
"Beyond Lebanon, Rachana radiates to the world and give the East a worthy artistic di- mension of our times".
Paul Toreze, "Galerie" magazine,
France.
Rachana, a high mythical place… A half century ago, a triad of artists regained its prestige. The brothers Basbous: Michel, Alfred and Joseph; the surname connotes "light" and the monogram of the forenames is "Wise Men". It is probably by chance, and what a stroke of luck!
Soon you realize that this is all you can imagine and even more as the incarnation of the Arabian tale of the village touched by the magic wand of a fairy whose inhabitants are all petrified: birds, plants, children and even the beautiful princess were transformed into stones. This magical village is today a contemporary reality; the magic wand is the scissors used by the three Basbous brothers in sculpture: Michel, Alfred and Youssef. Enter the fantastic village, you can find sculptures everywhere, on the road, in front of the houses, in the gardens, and squares. At the beginning, you think you are seeing stones, but little by little, they may seem moving, dancing, crying and talking to you all at the same time.
The villagers continue to live within this amazing world with the same simplicity and the same freshness emanating from the sculptures. You can never see the difference between the villagers and the statues. You reach a house, a sort of a house-sculpture as part of Michel Basbous project. He planned to build houses in Rachana with sculpture shapes, a type of village for the artists from the entire world, where they can live, celebrate the life and create. Michel dreamed of this model village that brings artists together: writers, painters, sculptors…. His death in 1981, however, did not take away the dream. His brother Alfred has perpetuated this dream by announcing that Rachana will welcome sculptors from now on from all over the world for fifteen days every year. They are invited to create artworks that will find their place among many sculptures made by Michel, Alfred and Youssef. Those three sculptors have managed to rub the challenge by transforming an ordinary village into an extra ordinary one, attracting people from all over the world to appreciate the art and try to live it.
The artworks of the Basbous are displayed in many museums worldwide. In the catalogue of Rodin Museum, you can find sculptures of Michel and Alfred Basbous alongside with the ones of Henry Moore, Zadkine, Stalle, Collamarini, César and many others. Andre Malraux was touched by the quality of the Lebanese sculptures when he saw their artworks at the Modern Art Museum in Paris. Local and international TV channels spent days filming the wonders of Rachana.
In 1971, the Basbous brothers displayed their artworks on the road of Faubourg Saint-Honoré, as they did previously in Souk Tawilé in Beirut. They were the first to exhibit on the road along with important occidental sculptors; they were warmly welcomed by the press and the French critics as well as throughout the European public.
Daniel Lorador said: "Variety of the artworks is the point of Michel Basbous' strengths. His creations along with the ones of his two brothers emit a poetry that tells the simple joys of the earth and the sky". In Japan, the Basbous brothers exhibited a number of their artworks at the Royale Museum of Tokyo, in 1974.
In Lebanon we can find the artworks of the Basbous brothers in private and public places as well, at the entrance of some public buildings, crossroads, or gardens in different cities. They are also part of private collections in many different countries all over the world.

Despite the fact that each one of the three Basbous brothers is different, the three of them share the same new look over the world and the existence, that their artwork is free and simple, so each one of them is different.

Michel the older brother and the trainer of his two younger brothers distills eternal youth art. He began his carrier like his brothers with scissors but then he used the machine even if he felt the scissors realized a different scratch on stones, such scrape that gives his artwork a new expression, a more human touch with such romantic inspiration. An alphabet scattered over a wild field of all types of stones, of wood, molded polystyrene worked with scissors, Michel also worked in aluminum, bronze, copper and iron. He will always remain: a legend figure out of the sea.

As to Alfred, he is sensible though volcanic sometimes. Like a bunch of fireworks suddenly turned on, its bursts are worth seeing. Rather silent, very demanding, he embodies honesty when he speaks that you may feel touching it with your fingers. His sculptures have curves, rounded shape as a child in the womb, or as the shape of a woman hugging the shade of her lover as to restrain him. His artworks are made of stone wood and all types of metals. The women are naked, they are mothers or lovers… and he loves them.

Youssef, himself, is silent to the point that he doesn't communicate with anybody. He is a sculptor with powerful muscles. In his artworks the skill of the craftsman lends itself to the sensitivity of a pure soul and an abstract vision.
"The sculptural work of the Basbous brothers is serene evaluation of human relations".
Jean-Jacques Levèque, "Nouvelle Littérature" (New Litterature),
France.
In brief, the three brothers have touched the West before even the East. A unanimous press has reserved a critical acclaim that so far no other artist in the Arab world has had the right. Three navigators have succeeded in materializing their dream by making Rachana a village of Fine Arts by excellence.

The 3 brothers together in Rachana


(1921-1981)
Born in Rachana. He studied Fine Arts at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA) from 1945 to 1949, and then he continued in Paris where he used to visit Zadkine workshop and "la Grande Chaumière". His artworks are found at Oxford Museum in London, UENO Museum in Japan, the Modern Art Museum in France as well as in many other public places in Lebanon and abroad.
(1924-2006)
Born in 1924 in Rachana. He learned sculpting with his brother Michel and took courses at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA), and then he took courses at Collamarini workshop in Paris. He signed artworks at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, at Oxford Museum and Ashmolium Museum in London, as well as in public places in Lebanon and abroad.
(1929-2001)
Born in Rachana. His first artworks went back to 1966. He learned sculpting with his two brothers Michel and Alfred. He displayed artworks at Oxford Museum in London, and in public places, in Lebanon and abroad.
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