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Dalloul Art Foundation

LAURE GHORAYEB, Lebanon (1931 - 2023)


Laure Ghorayeb was born in 1931, into a family of eight children, in Deir El Qamar, a village located in the mountains of Chouf, Lebanon, a name which translates in Arabic into "Monastery of the...

Written by FADIA ANTAR

Laure Ghorayeb was born in 1931, into a family of eight children, in Deir El Qamar, a village located in the mountains of Chouf, Lebanon, a name which translates in Arabic into "Monastery of the Moon."[1]  Laure grew up in this panoramic and historical setting, where she received a French education at the Saint Joseph de L'Apparition School. In the village, Laure studied in books where the illustrations were presented in black and white. After leaving for Beirut in 1945, and during her studies at the Grand Lycée Français Abdel Kader, she discovered the full-colored books.[2] Her first encounter with colors was an emotional one, but the young girl had already shaped her expression to reveal through black and white. Indeed, the written and drawn black lines accompanied her throughout her career as her preferable means of communication.

Ghorayeb got her first job in 1955, as a researcher at the Ministry of Education, studying school demographics in Lebanon. She started simultaneously writing poems and short stories in the French language for several magazines. While on the job, Laure rubbed shoulders with the painter Said Akl. He encouraged the young girl to pursue her written productions and try her hand at drawing.[3]

Her poetry book, illustrated with black and white miniatures, Noir Les Bleus, published in 1960, won her recognition among her time's avant-garde poets. Laure Gorayeb entered the circle of free poetry adepts,[4] such as Ounsi El-Haj, Adonis, and Youssef El Khal. The group published their writings in Chi'ir[5] magazine and organized poetic and cultural evenings every Thursday at the magazine's premises. From the beginning of the sixties until the end of the seventies, Beirut occupied a privileged cultural place within the Arab world, especially the Levant. Through its newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, theaters, cinemas, art galleries, and museums, it attracted numerous artists from the Arab world to exhibit and perform there; Beirut was the rite of passage. A free-spirited woman, Laure Ghorayeb played an active part in this scene's development as a poet, artist, and art critic. In fact, in 1962, she joined the newspaper L'Orient translating Arabic poems into French. In 1969, she worked at the newspaper Le Jour, in the section of culture and artistic criticism, to finally settle for fifty years at An Nahar newspaper as one of its art critics.

Laure Ghorayeb, the critic, was known for her sharp pen, which spared no one. She subjectively understood the exhibitions she visited, described them as a lived experience, and always conveyed strict but conscientious judgments, which earned her the respect and apprehension of artists and art centers.

Her path in a booming Beirut, where all artistic practices opened up to each other, influenced Ghorayeb never to consider any existing border between poetry and drawing; her poetry takes the form of an image, and her drawings are shaped with poetry. Laure has trained herself to execute her art through the fine lines of India ink. The lines intertwine with words and phrases from her daily life in a free expression that recalls automatic writing.[6] Far from being romantic, the sentences in her drawings are free poetry that reveals her childish playfulness, passions, immodesty, and everyday banalities, all invested with an emphasized sense of humor.[7]

Laure Ghorayeb rarely expresses herself in large formats. Although quite talkative, she leans towards saying a lot in the most confined spaces. She gives contemporary meaning to miniature art: filling the area of her work with increasingly detailed words and signs; even the smallest parts are loaded with almost microscopic patterns. Like a Russian doll, the characters split open to reveal smaller symbols and so on.

The art of Ghorayeb is autobiographical: her subjects often echo the artist's personal life and the events surrounding her. Between 1975 and 1985, she produced a series of drawings, Temoignages, which recount the Lebanese civil war's disasters. During the Israeli assault on Lebanon in 2006, she kept an illustrated diary entitled 33 Days. Rebellious towards the atrocities taking place and driven by a sense of urgency, she executed daily drawings overflowing with small details and stories. She posted her sketches on her blog and followed the reactions of her audience on the spot.

Laure's self-portrait is a recurring element in her drawings; we also find her husband, actor Antoine Kerbaj, portrayed as the ultimate subject or hero. The Visage Lunaire (Lunar Face) portrait, part of the DAF collection, was executed in 1996 in diluted India ink. Exceptionally, as she does in some of her works, Ghorayeb used color. But far from choosing garish colors, she opted for minimalism: pale pink and light and timeless gray. The face is the artist's self-portrait, seen under the moon's light, which only shows a filament of colors. It is lunar in its perfect roundness, similar to the full moon, an all-time symbol of beauty in traditional Lebanese perspective. But again, could this portrait be nostalgic of her native village, called "Monastery of the Moon?"

Laure Ghorayeb has forged an individual artistic language that brings together the aesthetics of Oriental or even Islamic decorative arts with the expression of Western abstract art; far from poetic lyricism, her work is more attached to the course of daily life.[8]

The artist lives and works in Ashrafieh, Beirut.


[2] Venetia Porter, Maha Sultan, and Mazen Kerbaj, “Laure Ghorayeb in Conversation with Mazen Kerbaj (Summer 2018),” in LAURE GHORAYEB: Black on White (Beirut, Lebanon: KAPH BOOKS, 2019), pp. 17-26.

[3] Venetia Porter, Maha Sultan, and Mazen Kerbaj, “Laure Ghorayeb in Conversation with Mazen Kerbaj (Summer 2018),” in LAURE GHORAYEB: Black on White (Beirut, Lebanon: KAPH BOOKS, 2019), pp. 17-26.

[4] “A radical approach to poetic form (including the prose poem) and its experiments with language and imagery.”

[5] Poetry magazine founded in Beirut and directed by the Lebanese poet Youssef Al-Khal. The first issue of the magazine was published in the winter of 1957.

[6] Automatic writing is the process or product of writing without using the conscious mind. https://www.newworldencycloped...

[7] Pierre Abi Saab, “مدوّنة جدّة سعيدة,” Al Akhbar, December 28, 2017, sec. Art and culture.

[8] Venetia Porter, Mazen Kerbaj, and Dr. Maha Sultan, “Laure Ghorayeb the Line is Prince of Illusion and the Absent Face of Childhood,” in LAURE GHORAYEB: Black on White (Beirut, Lebanon: KAPH BOOKS, 2019), pp. 183-193.


Kerbaj, Mazen, Venetia Porter, and Sultan Maha Azizé. Laure Ghorayeb: Black on White. Beirut, Lebanon: Kaph Books, 2019.

Tomb, Marie, Amin Maalouf, Gregory Buchakjian, Cesar Namour, Joseph Tarrab, Faisal Sultan, and Maha Sultan. “Laure Ghorayeb.” Essay. In Art from Lebanon, 262–63. Beirut, Lebanon: Wonderful Editions, 2012.

Shahine, Richard Abd Allah. Cent Ans D'art Plastique Au Liban 1880-1980 = One Hundred Years of Plastic Arts in Lebanon 1880-1980. Beirut, Lebanon: Richard A. Chahine, 1982.

Abi Saab, Pierre. “مدوّنة جدّة سعيدة.” Al Akhbar. December 28, 2017, sec. Art and culture.

Ezzeddine, Rawan. “لور غريب... أحلام طفلة شقية عمرها 86 عاماً.” Al Akhbar. December 28, 2017, sec. Art and culture.


Selected Solo exhibitions      


Laure Ghorayeb, Spéléographies, Rennes, France


Dessins de poche, La Vitrine, Beirut Art Residency, Beirut, Lebanon
L'ivresse des yeux, Galerie Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon


WOMEN MODERNIST ARTISTS, Beirut Art Fair, Biel, Beirut, Lebanon


Solo Exhibition, Gallery One, Beirut, Lebanon


Noir Le Blanc , Gallery One, Beirut, Lebanon

Selected Group Exhibitions                           


Correspondence(s), Sursock, Beirut, Lebanon


Correspondance, Spéléographies, Rennes, France


Home Beirut : Sounding the Neighbors, MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century           Arts, Rome, Italy


Hugette Caland, Laure Ghorayeb: The Doors of Perception, Galerie Janine Rubeiz,            Beirut, Lebanon


Rebirth, Beirut Exhibition Center, Beirut, Lebanon


Convergence - New Art from Lebanon, Katzen Art Center in Washington DC, USA

Awards and Honors


Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon


Alexandria Biennale, Egypt


Paris Biennale, France


Saradar Art Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon
British Museum, London, UK
Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art foundation, Beirut, Lebanon

Laure Ghorayeb : « Il m’est arrivé de lancer ma chaussure à la figure d’un poète »
Zena Zalzal
L'Orient-Le Jour, French, 2018
لور غريب…ملكة
Beirut Observer, Arabic, 2010
لور غريّب البطلة, Arabic, 2010
لوحات فنية في بيروت ... وفّرت «زاداً» لأطفال سورية النازحين
Al Rai Media, Arabic, 2013
الستّ لور غريّب ابنة الـ86: يوميّات جدّة ما زالت تعشق أنطوان
هنادي الديري
Annahar, Arabic, 2017
58 manifestants et leur message devant l'objectif de l'AFP
La Croix, French, 2019
مواقع الفن التشكيلي اللبناني على الانترنت لا تزال محدودة وسوقها ضعيفة
احمد بزون
Middle East Transparent, Arabic, 2007
Questionnaire de Proust à Laure Ghorayeb
L'Orient-Le Jour, French, 2020
 الخوري افتتح مهرجان لبنان الوطني للمسرح دورة انطوان كرباج ومنحه وسام الأرز الوطني بقرار من الرئيس عون
NNA(National News Agency), Arabic, 2018
Capturing the streets: the Lebanese revolution through the eyes of an artist
The Art News Paper, English, 2020
عدسة فوتوغرافي لبناني تعيد تصوير الاحتجاجات بلقطات فنية
Al Arab, Arabic, 2019
How Arabic Made It New
Anna Della Subin
The New Yorker Book Review, English, 2019
بوست وتغريدة سلامٌ مِن لور غريّب
Al Sawt, Arabic
Hope and Home Coming in Lebanon's Capital
Suitcase Magazine, English, 2020
متحف سرسق.. بيت حكايات الفنّ المعاصر والحديث
غفران مصطفى
Awal Centre, Arabic, 2019
لندن تحتفي بالمئوية الثالثة لفنان "حلاوات الحياة" الفرنسي فرنسوا بوشيه
Laure Ghorayeb
Jehat (Text taken from Annahar), Arabic, 2005
مدوّنة جدّة سعيدة
Pierre Abi Saab
Al Akhbar, Arabic, 2017
لور غريب... أحلام طفلة شقية عمرها 86 عاماً
Rawan Ezzeddine
Al Akhbar, Arabic, 2017
Lebanese women artists’ modern approach to art
India Stoughton
The National, English, 2016
اعتراف شرعي
لور غريّب, Arabic, 2016
Modern women: 13 Lebanese female artists in “LEBANON MODERN!” at the Beirut Art Fair 2016, English, 2016
The Doors of Perceptions: An All-Women Drawings Show Defying Gender Stereotypes Etel Adnan, Huguette Caland and Laure Ghorayeb
Nelida Nassar
Art and Culture today, English, 2016
Hugette Caland, Etel Adnan et Laure Ghorayeb
Christiane Tager Deslandes
Magazine Le Mensuel, French, 2016
Drawing Out a Competitive Streak
Magie Ghali
The Daily Star, English, 2019