Dalloul Art Foundation

Dalloul Art Foundation

JAMIL MOLAEB JAMIL MOLAEB

JAMIL MOLAEB, Lebanon (1948)

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Bio

Written by Fadia Antar

Jamil Molaeb was born in 1948, in Baysour, a village located in the Aley District of Mount Lebanon. He obtained a Bachelor's in Fine Arts from the Institute of Fine Art at the Lebanese University in Beirut in 1972. He was taught under prominent Lebanese Modernists such as Chafic Abboud, Paul Guiragossian, Rafic Charaf, Nadia Saykali, Amine El Bacha, Halim Jurdak, Aref Rayess, Yvette Achcar, Mounir Eido, Nicolas Nammar, and Ibrahim Marzouk. Molaeb values the influence of his professors from whom he collected a strong mastery in art techniques. Mainly, based on his formative years, Molaeb realized that he should avoid the direct impact of Western art movements and concentrate on his own culture and traditions[1].

Molaeb was the first Lebanese artist to pursue his studies at L’École Nationale des Beaux-Arts, in Algeria, from 1972 to 1973, after receiving a scholarship from the Algerian government. In Algeria, the artist focused on human anatomy, and had the opportunity to work with several nude models. He trained on the human figure revealing spirituality in the shapes and the lines of a body. The Algerian school of art, anchored in Western art techniques, Eastern traditions and spiritual dimensions, broadened Molaeb's perception of belonging. Farther from being a Lebanese artist from Baysour, he connected with the ancient Near-Eastern, Egyptian, Islamic and African art[2].

Molaeb's teaching career began in 1977 when he obtained the position of art professor at the Institute of Fine art, at the Lebanese University, until 2012. From 1993 to 1999, he taught art at the Lebanese American University in Beirut[3].

In 1984, Molaeb enrolled at the Pratt Institute, New York, to further his studies in engraving. He received an MA in fine arts in 1987 and later, a Ph.D. in art education from Ohio State University in 1989. Molaeb experimented with technology and new media during his US stay and had the opportunity to focus on different schools of modern and contemporary currents[4]. His stay in New York contrasted with his predominantly rural life. However, the cultural shock of suddenly being faced with the highest form of Western consumerist culture did not spark an identity crisis within an artist confident in his artistic heritage[5]. The works that came out of his New York stay are works of observation and social criticism, like that of an ethnographer[6]. In the Lithograph Faces from New York, 1987, we can see how the New York landscape changed Molaeb's composition to a vertical movement drawing the eye upward in a fast and graphic manner. The vignette strips of a figure in motion and drawings of women scattered amongst Arabic poetry are a reference to Pop Art, which draws directly from advertising and American consumerism[7]. The pie charts are Molaeb's critique of the disappearance of individuality in a sea of statistics and numbers.

Proceeding from observation of everyday life, Molaeb depicts the village’s communal life, the people working in the fields, the celebrations, and traditions. He fears the loss of his heritage thus tries to preserve those fleeting moments where men are connected with nature, animals, land, and people. In A Folkloric Lebanese Wedding[8], 2008, part of DAF’s collection, Molaeb portrays a wedding celebration as a cultural archetype. The painting becomes a record of the traditional daily routine and a challenge to globalization[9]. The flat, unified yellow-ochre background, the lack of anatomical realism in his figures, the congregation of villagers around a central figure (the bride), are all elements that recall a common philosophy of art which we can see in early Christian iconography with origins in ancient Egyptian art[10]. This philosophy focuses on simplicity rather than the faithful imitation and realism seen in the Greek strand of art philosophy. The personages depicted are meant to exist outside of time and represent an idea or a virtue of the soul rather than a physical being. It is only natural then, that the art critic Nazih Khater saw in Jamil Molaeb’s paintings poetry of daily life, transcending the ritual and the banal into the realms of eternity[11].

The pictorial vocabulary of Molaeb incorporates recurrent motifs of women, children, roosters, nudes, donkeys, fruit, writings, birds, and trees. These elements in his paintings constitute a leitmotif that takes the viewer on a spiritual inquisition; his birds in the painting Sea Gulls[12], 2001, part of DAF’s collection seem to be traveling towards the unknown, probing on the absurdity of the journey. The birds fly with the same momentum, head towards one direction. They are identical, and they invade all the canvas leaving little space to breathe. In addition to that, a reduced color palette of blue and grey and their respective shades accomplishes the feeling of heavy melancholy facing this inevitable voyage.

Recalling on his grandmother's stories of the persecuted people of the region, who lived the hardship of famines and wars, Molaeb’s aim, since his youth, was to transform those gloomy tales into joyful ones, to turn the grey picture into a colored and bright vision of life.[13] Molaeb is a colorist; whether in his figurative or abstract art, his colors take the lead over his lines[14]. The artist’s figures are more patches of colors than defined shapes; in their congregation, they form an orchestrated multi-colored field. The color palette he uses is typically vibrant—bright hues of blues, green, and notes of greys fill his canvases, with spots of red, and sometimes yellow, spread over the painting. In his nature subject matters, the artist is free to stroll into fields of colors, horizontal or vertical, where the details become rare and sometimes absent[15]. The Vertical Sea[16], 2009, part of DAF’s collection, is a pure study of the degradation of blues, with a gradual movement from one tone to the other. A minimal color arrangement forms the shape of a boat, at the bottom of the painting, relating the abstract work to the pictorial scenery of a seascape. The gradation of the blue hues within a game of multiple framings is more a rendition of the artist’s mood than an actual assessment of the horizon scenery. It is as if Molaeb processes the scene he encounters, and portrays it with a subjective chromatic interpretation.

Molaeb masters a variety of mediums, such as drawing, soft and oil pastel, gouache, acrylic, oil painting, woodcut, wood and stone sculpture, and mosaic work. The woodcut as a medium that requires concentration, manual ability, and gestural strength is a work that suits the rural temperament of Molaeb[17]. He cites the smell of wood and its rough touch when he mentions this medium that he taught at university for 35 years. The meticulous act of scooping out the wood reenacts the writing and carving gestures, connecting the artist with the rituals of Sumerian and Hieroglyph scripts, and Islamic calligraphy. It is the texture of the wood and the shape of the board that inspires Molaeb’s composition and guides his lines[18].

In 1980, and during the Lebanese Mountain war, Molaeb took refuge in the Bekaa valley. He collected doors, pine logs, and any found pieces of wood to produce a series of 30 woodcuts, End of darkness beginning of dawn, a record of the violence and massacres that took place in this time[19]. In the absence of any printing press, the artist coated his woodcuts with black oil instead of ink, placed sheets of paper on the engraved wood, and pressed it with a roller. The artist himself printed most of those engravings in two or three copies[20].

Molaeb’s art is a biography that tells the tale of his village Baysour, its fauna and flora, people, and gatherings. Baysour, with its simplicity and culture, is the departing point for his subject matters and solid structures based on the balance of nature and the recurrence of seasons and days. Even in his abstract and semi-abstract works, the hills, sky, and sea remain recognizable; Molaeb always proceeds with what his eyesight captures. Raising a concern to preserve and give reverence to Lebanese modern art, he built, in 2015, a museum in his home village, sheltering the works of more than forty artists[21].

Jamil Molaeb lives and works in Baysour, Lebanon.

[1] Jamil Molaeb, “My Journey,” in Jamil Molaeb, a Self Portrait (Beirut: Fine Art Publishing, 2006), pp. 13-14.

[2] Jamil Molaeb, “My Journey,” in Jamil Molaeb, a Self Portrait (Beirut: Fine Art Publishing, 2006), pp. 15-16.

[3] Joseph Tarrab, Jamil Molaeb, Xylographies Woodcuts, 1980-2014 (Beyrouth: Galerie Janine Rubeiz, 2014).

[4] Jamil Molaeb, “My Journey,” in Jamil Molaeb, a Self Portrait (Beirut: Fine Art Publishing, 2006), pp. 17-19.

[5] Maha Sultan, “Under New York's Sky, Everything Is Possible,” in Jamil Molaeb, New York-New York, 1984-2015 (Beyrouth: Galerie Janine Rubeiz, 2016), pp. 9-10.

[6] Joseph Tarrab, Jamil Molaeb, Xylographies Woodcuts, 1980-2014 (Beyrouth: Galerie Janine Rubeiz, 2014).

[7] Maha Sultan, “Under New York's Sky, Everything Is Possible,” in Jamil Molaeb, New York-New York, 1984-2015 (Beyrouth: Galerie Janine Rubeiz, 2016), pp. 9-10.

[8] “A Folkloric Lebanese Wedding - The Collection,” Dalloul Art Foundation, accessed June 10, 2020, https://dafbeirut.org/en/jamil-molaeb/works/1975-232736-a-folkloric-lebanese-wedding).

[9] Marie-Louise Elia, “Jamil Molaeb,” Youtube (artmodernemv, January 12, 2015), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WAmpcK8Q6k.

[10] “Gombrich Explains Christian Iconography: Art: Agenda,” Phaidon, accessed June 10, 2020, https://www.phaidon.com/agenda/art/articles/2014/december/22/gombrich-explains-christian-iconography/)

[11] Nazih Khater, “Jamil Molaeb ‘An Artist from Lebanon,’” Youtube (Molaeb festival, March 22, 2019), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE4Vh_1TndQ.

[12] “Sea Gulls - The Collection,” Dalloul Art Foundation, accessed June 10, 2020, https://dafbeirut.org/en/jamil-molaeb/works/233377-sea-gulls).

[13] Marie-Louise Elia, “Jamil Molaeb,” Youtube ( artmodernemv, January 12, 2015), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WAmpcK8Q6k.

[14] Helen Khal, “Jamil Molaeb,” in Resonances, 82 Lebanese Artists Reviewed by Helen Khal (Beirut: Fine Arts Publishing, 2011), pp. 214-217.

[15] Helen Khal, “Jamil Molaeb,” in Resonances, 82 Lebanese Artists Reviewed by Helen Khal (Beirut: Fine Arts Publishing, 2011), pp. 214-217.

[16] “The Vertical Sea - The Collection,” Dalloul Art Foundation, accessed June 10, 2020, https://dafbeirut.org/en/jamil-molaeb/works/232917-the-verticle-sea).

[17] Joseph Tarrab, “A Life Worth Living,” in Jamil Molaeb, Xylographies Woodcuts, 1980-2014 (Beyrouth: Galerie Janine Rubeiz, 2014), pp. 21-26.

[18] Jamil Molaeb, “Woodcuts,” in Jamil Molaeb, a Self Portrait (Beirut: Fine Art Publishing, 2006), p. 113.

[19] Jamil Molaeb, “My Journey,” in Jamil Molaeb, a Self Portrait (Beirut: Fine Art Publishing, 2006), p. 17.

[20] Joseph Tarrab, “A Life Worth Living,” in Jamil Molaeb, Xylographies Woodcuts, 1980-2014 (Beyrouth: Galerie Janine Rubeiz, 2014), pp. 21-26.

[21] Mimosa Arawi and Ribal Molaeb, “Jamil Molaeb ‘Molaeb a Life Worth Living,’” MolaebFestival (Youtube, October 16, 2016), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcOkTB6i_TQ.

Sources

Molaeb, Jamil. Jamil Molaeb, a Self Portrait. Beirut: Fine Art Publishing, 2006.

Sultan Faysal. “Jamil Molaeb.” Essay. In Kitabat mustaʻadah Min dhakirat funun Bayrut, 174–77. Beirut, Lebanon: Daar al-Farabi, 2013.

Tarrab, Joseph. Jamil Molaeb, Xylographies Woodcuts, 1980-2014. Beyrouth: Galerie Janine Rubeiz, 2014.

Molaeb, Jamil, Nadine Begdache, and Maha Sultan. Jamil Molaeb, New York-New York, 1984-2015. Beyrouth: Galerie Janine Rubeiz, 2016.

Molaeb, Jamil, and Cesar Nammour. My Village. Beirut: Fine Arts Publishing, 2006.

Molaeb Jamil, and Cesar Nammour. Sea. Beirut, Lebanon: Fine Arts Publishing, 2009.

Molaeb, Jamil, Adonis, and Cesar Nammour. Mountain. Beirut, Lebanon: Fine Arts Publishing, 2009.

Abillama, Nour, and Marie Tomb. “Jamil Molaeb.” Essay. In Art from Lebanon, 383–87. Beirut, Lebanon: Wonderful Editions, 2012.

Fani, Michel. “Jamil Molaeb.” Essay. In Dictionnaire De La Peinture Au Liban, 193-194. Paris: Escalier, 1998.

Al Kaissey, Omran. “Jamil Molaeb.” Essay. In Cent Ans D'art Plastique Au Liban: 1880-1980, II:39. Beyrouth: Éd. R.A. Chahine, 1982.

Khal, Helen. “Jamil Molaeb.” Essay. In Resonances, 82 Lebanese Artists Reviewed by Helen Khal, 214–17. Beirut: Fine Arts Publishing, 2011.

يونس نيكول. “‘يوميات’ جميل ملاعب... سلام على الزمن العابر.” الأخبار, September 5, 2017. https://al-akhbar.com/Literature_Arts/237210.

Hojeij, Bahij, Nazih Khater, Joseph Tarrab, Abbas Baydoun, Adonis, Ahmed Bazzoun, and Nadine Bekdache. “Jamil Molaeb ‘An Artist from Lebanon.’” Youtube. Molaeb festival, March 22, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE4Vh_1TndQ.

Elia, Marie-Louise. “Jamil Molaeb.” Youtube. artmodernemv, January 12, 2015.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WAmpcK8Q6k.

Arawi , Mimosa, and Ribal Molaeb. “Jamil Molaeb ‘Molaeb a Life Worth Living.’” MolaebFestival. Youtube, October 16, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcOkTB6i_TQ.

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CV

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2018

Jerusalem, Gallery Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon

2017

My Diaries, Gallery Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon

2016

New York New York 1984-2015, Gallery Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon

2014

A Life Worth Living, Gallery Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon

2013

Alphabet of Reality, Gallery Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon

2011

The Present of Yesterday and Tomorrow, Gallery Janine Rubeize, Beirut, Lebanon

2008

Serenity, Recent Works, Gallery Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon

2006

The Nude, Gallery Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon
Brushes for Feathers, Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon

2005

Glance: Past and Present, Gallery Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon

2004

Diary of Living, Gallery Janine Rubeize, Beirut, Lebanon
Dar el-Nadwe, Beirut, Lebanon

2003

Theatre de Beyrouth, Beirut, Lebanon

2002

The Blue, Gallery Janine Rubeize, Beirut, Lebanon

2000

Nature and Space, Gallery Janine Rubeize, Beirut, Lebanon

1999

Gallery Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon

1998

Sunday Walk, Gallery Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon

1996

Gallery Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon

1995

Gallery Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon

1994

Gallery Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon

1993

Gallery Agial, Beirut, Lebanon

1990

Dar el-Nadwe, Beirut, Lebanon

1987 

MFA Thesis Exhibition, Pratt Institute, New York, US

1985

Gallery Chahine, Beirut, Lebanon

1984

Alif Gallery, Washington, D.C., US

1982

Gallery Epreuve d’Artiste, Beirut, Lebanon

1980

Smugglers Inn, Beirut, Lebanon

1979

Lebanese Painters and Sculptors Association, Beirut, Lebanon
Smugglers Inn, Beirut, Lebanon

1974

Dar Al Fan Wal Adab, Beirut, Lebanon
Contact Art Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon

1973

Hall of the Ministry of Tourism, Algeria

Selected Group Exhibitions

2019

October 17, 2019, Gallery Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon

2014

Works on Paper: Hikayat, Green Art Gallery, Dubai, UAE

2012

Art From Lebanon, Beirut Exhibition Center, Beirut, Lebanon

2011

Rebirth, Beirut Exhibition Center, Beirut, Lebanon

2008

Selected Works, Audi Bank, CCSS de Jahmour, Lebanon

2006

Pinceaux pour Plume, held by the Lebanese Society for the National Library at Nicolas Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon

2001

Artuel, Beirut Hall, Gallery Janine Rubeiz stand, Beirut, Lebanon
Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah, UAE

2000

Municipality Hall, Deir el-Kamar, Lebanon
Artuel, Beirut Hall, Gallery Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon

1998

Graphic Art in Lebanon, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon

1997

Al-Mahabbe Biennial, Latakia, Syria

1996

Human Figure in Lebanese Art, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon

1995

Abstract Painting in Lebanese Art, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon

1994

Pastel in Lebanese Art, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon

1993

Pour Janine Rubeize, Gallery Janine Rubeiz, Beirut, Lebanon
Still Life, Beirut University College, Beirut, Lebanon

1989

British International Print Biennial, Bradford, U.K

1988

Gallery 200, Colombus Ohio, US

1987

Pratt Manhattan Gallery, New York, US

1986

Contemporary Arab Art in the US, Drag Hammarskjold, Tower Sky Lounge, UN, New York, US

1984

Lebanese Painters and Sculptors Association, Beirut, Lebanon

1978

Sculpture Art Shopping, Dar el-Fan Wal-Adab, Souk el Tawili, Beirut, Lebanon
Ministry of Tourism, Beirut, Lebanon

1977

Ministry of Tourism, Beirut, Lebanon

1968

Lebanese Painters and Sculptors Association, Beirut, Lebanon
Dar Al Fan Wal Adab, Beirut, Lebanon

1966

Salon d’Automne, Nicolas Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon
Salon du Printemps, Ministry of Education, Beirut, Lebanon

Awards and Honors

2018

Lebanese Creativity Award, Lebanese Cultural Forum, Paris, France

2009

Honored by the Lebanese University, Lebanon

2006

Honorary Shield by the Antelias Cultural Movement, Antelias, Lebanon

1995

Special distinction in painting, 18th Salon of the Sursock Museum, Lebanon

1967

3rd prize for sculpture, 7th Salon of the Sursock Museum, Lebanon

Publications

1982

End of Darkness; Beginning of Light, a book of etchings and woodcuts

1979

Close to Homeland, a book of drawings

1977

Diary of the Civil War, a book of drawings
Caricature – The Art of How People Should Be, Fikr Magazine
War Between Art and Man, Fikr Magazine
The Role of Art in Crystallizing National Identity, Fikr Magazine

1972

Le mat atre, Claud Khal

Collections

Nicolas Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon
Bahrain Museum, Bahrain
Beitedine Museum, Lebanon
World Bank, Washington D.C., US
Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon
The Jamil Molaeb Museum, Mount Lebanon, Lebanon
Saradar Collection, Beirut, Lebanon
The Mokbel Art Collection, Beirut, Lebanon
Ministry of Culture, Lebanon

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Videos

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Exhibitions

JAMIL MOLAEB Artwork