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Shafic Abboud (Lebanese, 1926-2004)
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Shafic Abboud (Lebanese, 1926-2004)

La fête

Shafic Abboud (Lebanese, 1926-2004)
La fête
signed 'Abboud' (lower right); signed and dated 'ABBOUD 74' (on the reverse); titled '"LA FÊTE"' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
44 7/8 x 57 ½in. (114 x 146cm.)
Painted in 1974
Galerie Brigitte Schehadé, Paris.
Private Collection, Paris (acquired circa 1977-1978).
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1992.
C. Lemand, Shafic Abboud, Paris 2006 (illustrated in colour, p. 110).
Galerie Brigitte Schehadé, Shafic Abboud, 1977.
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Post lot text
This work is sold with a photo-certificate from Christine Abboud, under no. ID170.

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Lot Essay

Abboud is one of the founding pillars of Modern Lebanese art. Inspired by folkloric Lebanese tales and daily life, he later moved towards abstract art, following his move to Paris in 1947, where he studied art with some of the leading artists of the Parisian art scene at the time, before enrolling into the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts. Seeking to depict light and its essence Abboud uses organic shapes and carefully chosen monochrome planes of colour, often meticulously superimposed on top of each other, to cover his canvases with thick impasto and flecks of pigment that are reminiscent of abstract painter Nicolas de Staël’s works. Nonetheless, whilst Abboud’s paintings do not depict stories or landscapes, they are not entirely deprived of narrative. He extracts the atmosphere of a precise scene in time through light and colours.
The present lot La Fête, painted in 1974, precisely embodies the notion that the title hints to the interpretation of his seemingly abstract painting, with its explosive bright green colour tones animated by a luminous patchwork of pinks, light blues and greys. In May 1974, he explained very clearly the direction his art was taking, epitomised by La Fête: ‘I am currently heading toward painting based on reality but more allusive than figurative, attempting through sensations to recount life without any pre-established theories’ (quoted in C.Lemand, Shafic Abboud, Paris 2006, p. 345). The whimsical whirlwind of vibrant pigments, brushstrokes and painterly surface in La Fête perfectly transcribe the connotations of the word ‘Fête’ or ‘party’, that of happiness, euphoria and freedom. As a highly unusual palette dominated by a bice green and with its allusions to youth and nature in full bloom, La Fête stands out in Abboud’s oeuvre as a unique piece that celebrates the joy of life.
Painted the year preceding the outbreak of the 1975 Civil War in his beloved homeland, after La Fête, Abboud continued to use his paintings as a refuge of pleasure, poetry and joy despite the horrors raging through Lebanon. La Fête presents a window into Abboud’s magical realm of colours, textures and light, which was particularly rich, spontaneous and dazzling due to his experiments in the 1970s with other media than painting and drawing, such as terracotta, ceramics and illustrated books.
La Fête was one of the larger works exhibited during Abboud’s solo show at Brigitte Schehadé’s gallery in April-May 1977. Renowned art critic from Le Figaro, Alain Bosquet, reviewed the exhibition writing that ‘the first impression is of light, in which the volumes, the forms and the profiles are melded with an enormous abstract happiness’ (quoted in ibid., p. 345), which is exactly what emanates from La Fête.

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