The prestigious lineage of the movement worldwide (from Goya to Bacon) manifests in Lebanon under the brush of the pioneer Rafic Charaf (1932-2003) to the movement of the established artist Simon Mhanna (1994). Son of a blacksmith from the Bekaa, Charaf expresses his personal vision of the intimate through his brush. This exhibition will take place at  While We’re Young Art Gallery , Mar Mekhael from 29/02/2024 till 07/03/2024 .

Their lineage is indeed plural. Beyond the expressionist movement of the 1910s, art has various precursors: the early 20th-century German historical representatives, American expressionists, their European colleagues after 1940, up to the emerging neo-expressionists in the late 1970s. The faces of Goya, Munch, Soutine, Picasso, De Kooning, Bacon, and others emerge!

Characterized by a protean expressionism, most of the figures drawn by Rafic Charaf and Simon Mhanna often dominate the foreground. The flattened forms translate a profound unhappiness. The first one is a creator of sober harmonies, sometimes sad, sometimes joyful, but always endowed with an incredible emotional tension. The rebellious spirit and power of expressionism survive inside of current paintings in new forms, with the second one. Their furious desire to paint, a deep breath of freedom and non-conformism tend towards a pictorial representation of the visible, telling of formal power, assuming extreme expressiveness leading to the adoption of a purely neo-expressionist style.

Born in Baalbeck and later moving to Beirut to pursue his artistic passion, Rafic Charaf's journey began with humble origins, drawing with charcoal in his father's furnace. Recognized for his talent by poet Loutfi Haidar, Charaf received a scholarship to study at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts, later expanding his horizons with two years of study in Madrid, influenced deeply by Spanish and Western expressionism. Throughout his career, Charaf exhibited extensively both locally and internationally, earning prestigious awards for his work. Influenced by poetry and folk art, his paintings often depicted legendary figures and scenes from the Bekaa Valley, reflecting a blend of nostalgia and love for his homeland. Charaf's art explored themes of heroism, war, and religious symbolism, incorporating Quranic calligraphy and Byzantine-inspired motifs. As a professor and dean at the National Institute of Fine Arts of the Lebanese University, Charaf left a lasting legacy, characterized by his expressionistic style and emotionally charged compositions, capturing both sadness and joy with incredible tension and depth.

 Simon Mhanna is a contemporary artist whose work is to be found in various major institutions, including the Sursock museum in Beirut and the KKL Luzern or the collection of François Pinault. He is also the founder of The LT Gallery, co-founder of WWY Gallery in Beirut and Introducer Gallery in Ghana. This art lover holds a master's degree in critical and curatorial studies from the University of Prague. Regularly present in exhibitions, his artworks reflect the general attraction of the international public towards the legacy of the great pioneer masters Egon Schiele and Otto Dix. His impactful approach touches the heart of a society in crisis.