The intense abstractions of Shafic Abboud have made him one of the most fascinating Modern artists of his generation. His works, considered to be a manifesto of light, freedom, colour and happiness reveal not only a true passion for painting, but also a deep sense of attachment to both his birthplace of Lebanon and his home in France. As an artist who used painting as a method for personal expression, it is undoubted that his compositions are imbued with a strong sense of emotion. In this particular work, we see the artist's sense of lyricism as he explored the memories of his childhood as well as the symbols of his new life in France.
With a painterly oeuvre that explores the depths of abstraction and figural painting, Abboud's artistic talents were complemented by the serenity of the Parisian landscape. After moving from Lebanon around the time of the 1975 Civil War, this time of personal turmoil combined with the beauty and abundant culture in Paris provided him with a unique visual perspective. Shying away from styles and techniques that were typical at the time, Abboud adopted a technique that explored the expressive and colourful visual language of abstraction.
While the war displaced and distressed numerous Lebanese artists, it was common to find these visual manifestations of devastation as recurring themes throughout their works. Abboud on the other hand allowed the positivity and happiness of his new life to grace his canvases. While he decorated onto his works the joyful memories of Lebanon, his paintings adopt a beautiful sense of nostalgia. Drawing inspiration from his childhood, the lyricism of Abboud's abstractions seeks inspiration from the tales told by his grandmother, the village storyteller, as he transforms them into poetic visual messages.
By painting this jovial composition, Abboud recalls the image boxes made of wood and entirely painted with a curtain, a porthole, a lamp, a turnstile to unfold the stories painted in colour on paper, with a manuscript text at the back of each image. A few of those were made for his beloved daughter Christine in the 1950s and 1960s, when she was a child and today, these image boxes recall many memories and dreamlike thoughts from their happy past.
The conviction the artist possessed in his own technique is visible through the confidence of his strokes and through his elaborate use of colour and paint. Driven by a passion for his craft, this artist soon became widely celebrated in Paris. This particular work is exemplary of the artist's fascination with colour and harmony. The light powder blue canvas layered with rhythmic strokes and an abundance of colours creates a wonderful medley harmony. Employing a sense of organic spontaneity to his works, the artist truly holds a talent for the art of abstraction.
La Boite à Images was exhibited in Amsterdam in 1975 and then caught the eye of its present owner. While the artist depicted a harmonious and almost musical composition, its long-time owner in turn spent long hours admiring the work while listening to Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major. In fact, alike Shafic Abboud himself, Ravel has often been associated with the Impressionist school of painting and it thus appears evident that the present captivating work plays with colours, light and is essentially in itself a melodious musical and painterly composition.