Museums are often the source of empty containers, yet to be filled. In some cases, these are clearly operations that aim to bring new value to the cities in which they are located, as in the case of the famous Bilbao effect, which we have already discussed here. But there are also museums that are created to house works of art that are already present in the city and that need a home where visitors can discover them.
This was the case of the village of Rachanain the district of Batroun in northern Lebanon, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, which is home to an artist and sculptor Anachar Basbousinvolved in art and creation since birth thanks to the influence of his father, well-known sculptor Michel Basbous, and his mother, writer and poet Thérèse Aouad.
Anachar Basbous wanted to build a space that preserves his family’s heritage and how the village of Rachana is clearly reflected in the details of their works. He buys land in front of his house with a view of the sea, a site integrating two typical elements of the villages of his region. The first of these is a flat area known as “baydar”, Arabic for “threshing floor”, a particularly windy spot in the village where wheat and oats are separated after harvest. The second element is the “rejmeh”, a huge mound built by the inhabitants of the village by piling up small pebbles collected on their land. This is where Anachar Basbous and the architect Jawdat Arnouk built a plain concrete monolith, a form of architecture set into the ground on the east side of the lot and stretching out to sea on the west side. Anachar spent a year studying architecture before beginning his career in art, and the influence of these studies can be seen in his work, especially in his most recent exhibitions, as well as in the new museum, housing sculptures created between 2017 and 2022 in corten steel, steel, stainless steel, marble, wood, aluminium, basalt and concrete. Assembled from a variety of components, his sculptures create the illusion of movement in space while raising questions about dichotomies such as the relationship between body and soul, or between gravity and magnetism.
MAB Anachar Basbous is much more than a container of more than 50 sculptures awaiting the public: it is also a narrative experience, an account of the travels and work of Anachar Basbous, and a tribute to his mother and father. This tribute materializes in a room with a glazed opening in the roof to let in the sky and sunlight from above, containing a bronze sculpture made by Michel Basbous in 1954. Anachar Basbous offers a kind of time Machine in which visitors can step back in time to explore both modern art and the past with the insatiable curiosity that drives Basbous to keep traveling to new places all over the world.
According to the artist: “I believe the space will captivate its audience in a way that allows them to feel a sense of connection to the past through their sense of smell, the earth beneath their feet, and the feelings of those of the older generation.”
The MAB Anachar Basbous opened its doors on September 25 after two years of construction, as an art house in perfect harmony with the context in which the art of Basbous emerged. The museum is open to visitors by appointment.
Project: Jawdat Arnouk and Anachar Basbous
Location: Rachana, Lebanon
Images: Michel Anachar Basbous
For appointments: +961 3 741 310