Sami Basbous reinterprets the poetry of memory in 'Batroun, from Sea to Mountains'

“An artist has the responsibility to bring something different or a kind of magic for art has the ability to heal; he can show that things can be different and he introduces the possibilities," Sami Basbous told Annahar.
by Maria Matar

9 April 2019 | 11:44

Source: by Annahar

  • by Maria Matar
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 9 April 2019 | 11:44

"Healing" by the artist Sami Basbous, now on display along with his other works at the Villa Paradiso in the Old Souk Area of Batroun. (Maria Matar)

BEIRUT: Returning to his birthplace, where it all started, artist Sami Basbous channels the energy Batroun transmits to him into his exhibition “Batroun, from Sea to Mountains," which launched on Saturday at Villa Paradiso in the Old Souk Area of Batroun.   

Basbous is a composer, lyricist, performer, poet and writer. He's a believer in the late German poet Rainer Maria Rilke's view that art arises from necessity. Basbous has published poetry and exhibited his art in Los Angeles, New York, Sydney, Beirut, and Montreal.

He performed concerts, produced TV shows, directed and starred in plays in Lebanon, as well as major cities across Europe and North America. In 2012, he released his album “Farewell Beirut O Scarlet Tramp.”

“Artists have the responsibility to bring something different or a kind of magic, since art has the ability to heal; they can show that things can be different and they can give alternatives. The most beautiful work of art is nature, and artists can recreate nature within themselves and their paintings are an extension of it,” said Basbous.

The multi-talented Lebanese artist returned to his birthplace of Ghouma, Batroun for inspiration, with an exhibition that brings new life into a richly diverse range of elements, from the discarded to the iconic, all of which say something about this fascinating and ancient coastal city.

“Every time I come to Batroun, I'm inspired by its peacefulness and the spiritual energy it creates. It feels like home even though I sometimes look at the stars and feel my home is up there,” he said, adding that that one of his ongoing inspirations is his mother.


Basbous began his project on the streets, seeking out a variety of components to work with, from once-attractive posters and flyers on walls to weather-beaten, but resilient fishing boats. These, together with plenty of other snapshots and souvenirs of Batroun life were deconstructed, regenerated by means of a reverse/revenge collage process and then photographed, with the results printed on canvas or quality art paper.

Basbous then immersed himself in painting his signature abstract and realistic figures at his atelier, using a variety of media, against a backdrop of music. The resulting haunting personas were then melded with the photographs, bringing to life multi-layered, substantive souls keen to relate their true stories or fables or perhaps a combination of both.

The paintings have different themes each that range from the history of Batroun, desire, romance healing, to portraits of unique characters and many others. The characters showcased are not real-life persons, but figures born in Basbous’s imagination, except for one which portrays his niece Miriam.


“I can see both reality and my imagination when I’m painting because I’m interpreting and recreating at the same time. It's the same as reinterpreting our memories as poetry, for we sentimentalize them, bring drama to them and sometimes darken them,” he told Annahar.   

"Batroun, from Sea to Mountains" is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

There will be storytelling, poetry and a live performance on April 9 and again on the closing evening of April 14 at Villa Paradiso.

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