Madi Hussein

Hussein Madi was born in Chabaa, a border village at the foot of Mount Hermon in South Lebanon. Painter, sculptor and engraver, he received his initial training at ALBA. Subsequently, he went to Rome where he enrolled at the Academia di Belle Arte and at the Academia di San Jacomo. In Rome he did advanced research into the cultural heritage of the Arabic East and of Egypt. He went back to Lebanon and taught sculpture and engraving at the institute of Fine Arts of the Lebanese University and, from 1958 to 1962, at ALBA. Since 1964 Madi has been living between Beirut and Rome. He has been exhibiting in Europe since 1965. Madi has participated in numerous group shows. These include the Biennales of Alexandria (1965, 1967), and Bagdad (1974), the Salons of the Sursock Museum, Beirut (1965, 1966, 1988); Galleria La Satdera, Sulmona, Italy (1971); Galleria Del Sole, Rome (1972); Ueno Museum, Tokyo (1972); Ministry of Tourism exhibition, Rome (1972); Galleria Cortina, Milan (1972) and the Association of Lebanese Painters and Sculptors, Beirut (1983). He also took part in the British International Print Biennale in Bradford, England (1984) and exhibited paintings and sculptures in Gallery Platform, Beirut (1988). He has held one-man shows at the Association of Lebanese Painters, Beirut, (1965); Dar el Fan, Beirut (1968); Galleria II Poliedro, Rome (1968); Galleria Magna Graecia, Taranto, Italy (1970); Galleria d'Arte Cavour, Milan (1972); Galerie Samia Tutunji, Beirut (1977, 1978); Galleria Tri Falco, Rome (1973); Galerie Contact, Beirut (1973); Galerie Modulart, Beirut (1974) and Galleria Esagono, Lecce (1976). In 1979, he had an important retrospective exhibition at the Lebanese Ministry, Beirut, and in 1984 he exhibited at the Petra Gallery in Amman; Kuwait Biennale (1984); 23rd International Biennale, Sao Paolo, Brazil (1996); Euro Art, "Special Liban", Geneva (1999); Paintings, Sculptures, Drawings, Aida Cherfan Fine Art (2000, 2001, 2002); Signature of the Book: "The Art of Madi" (May 2004); Paintings, Aida Cherfan Fine Art (April 2006). Hussein Madi has won several prizes: the Sursock Museum 5th Salon Prize for Painting (1965-66), the 8th Salon's Prize for Sculpture offered by the Italian Cultural Centre in 1968/69 and the First Prize for Engraving, Citta di Lecce, Italy (1974). President of the "Association of Lebanese Artists" (1982, 1992). The Italian critic Joseph Silvaggi writes about Madi: "His drawings are filled with symbols and rich with artistic conventions in simplified forms; they are an enchanted script, a résumé of figurative art, the art of modern man." Hussein Madi makes use of the art of calligraphy, today consisting of symbols which were originally pictograms. Madi tries to take these symbols back to the time when writing was half-picture, half-symbol. He has thus reconciled the real, represented by a partial image, with the symbolic, connected with the inner life of man. Between these two poles, he has built marvelous worlds, the realistic one which binds man to the earth and the symbolic one binding man to his conception of the world. In this manner, he satisfies both the eye and the mind at the same time. With exceptional power, Madi outlines a silhouette of man on the entire surface of the canvas with two quick strokes of his large brush. A vertical line and a curved one make up the frame of this stylized painting. The features of his characters are those of the Oriental man clearly showing his cultural heritage. In their attitudes, two expressions are found: a static one which shows permanence in the face of the transitory, and the deep Oriental faith in immortality and eternal rest, and also a facial expression of cruel irony, playing the part of the mask in the Greek tragedy or an expression of suffering through stiff posture, like the loud outburst of a horrible cry, the terrible roar of the Assyrian lioness dragging along her crushed rump. This rending roar personifies the cry of Humanity.In Hussein Madi, statues one finds a creative power which translates human feelings. It already existed in the Oriental artistic heritage and has started again to play its civilizing role in the art of today. Often drawing from his extensive knowledge of Arab visual culture, Hussein Madi’s vibrant, abstract compositions reflect his close examination and interpretation of traditions such as Arabic calligraphy and pictography while focusing on diverse forms and symbols. Madi’s figurative paintings often possess a particular sensuality with fluid lines, intricate patterns, and bold uses of colour. The featured lot is from the preliminary period of Madi’s career, and was created during his official entrance into the Lebanese art scene. The early floral still life reflects the artist’s beginnings in figurative painting long before he adopted his celebrated expressionist style, and indicates his primary experiments with interactions of colour and abstracted planes. Born in Chabaa, Lebanon in 1938, Hussein Madi is a painter, sculptor, and engraver who first studied at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts at the University of Balamand (1958-1962). A leading artist, he is widely recognized for his contemporary painting. After completing his early artistic training in northern Lebanon, Madi traveled to Rome, where he continued to develop his work at the Academia di Belle Arti and the Academia di San Jacomo. In the Italian capital, he also explored the cultural heritage of the Arab world through advanced research. In the late 1970s he began an academic career in his native country when he returned to teach at the Institute of Fine Arts of the Lebanese University, in addition to his alma mater. Living between Beirut and Rome in the 1980s, he permanently resettled in his native country in 1986. Madi’s exhibition history spans several decades and continents with an impressive list of group shows at the Venice Biennale and Tokyo’s Ueno Museum, among other venues, and events such as the British Museum's groundbreaking exhibition Word into Art (2006). An esteemed member of the Lebanese art scene for over fifty years, Madi continues to exhibit regularly in Beirut’s leading art spaces, where he has a significant following among collectors, and has served as the president of the Lebanese Artists Association of Painters and Sculptors. His revered monograph, simply titled The Art of Madi (Saqi: London, 2005), is a crucial document of Arab art history.