His paintings pose a big question mark on Baalbek

About the Artist

Lebanese artist Mazen al-Rifai was born in 1950, and graduated from the Art Institute at the Lebanese University with a Higher Studies Diploma in 1981. He first worked in water colors, then after almost 40 years changed to oil painting.

Rifai’s work has been praised for its capacity to employ decorative features through the absence of their actual forms.

Mazen al-Rifai learnt an unquestionable fact at an early age: creativity entails posing questions. Therefore, he started raising endless questions that have left a big question mark, which he named Baalbek.

Mazen al-Rifai: Many questions cross my mind when I find myself in certain places or settings. For example, why should we bother ourselves and build a temple like this one in Baalbek? I cannot find answers for such questions.

Al Rifai’s academic journey kicked off from Baabda to the Faculty of Arts in Beirut and ended in Paris. That journey went beyond his native town and even his dream, culminating in his mastering arts and architecture.

Mazen al-Rifai: When I was awarded my diploma, my mind was set on my dream city Baalbek, but the dream turned to be an illusion.

Mazen never surrendered to disappointment, but rather depicted his sorrows with charming water color paintings, which stunned the beholders with the transparency of its green layers.

Mazen al-Rifai: Water color technique is the most difficult. Water colors reflect my personality.

Since colors are falling short of expressing themselves, Mazen chose black and white for “Baalbek” book cover, which unveiled another creative aspect of Mazen, apart from architecture and art.

Mazen al-Rifai : Poetry recital