Colors, Tome 2, Joseph Sokhn - 1977
question of culture and formation which finds its expression in
the work of Joseph Matar by Joanna Bassil on
11 April 2000 ( French)
Joseph MATAR: The Artist who spoke to nature and unveiled its
divine beauty! An article by De La Croix De Lafayette.
March 6, 2003, Vienna, Austria
Lluís Montané, International Association of Art
Critics (In SPANISH) - April 19, 2003 (aica-int.org)
Comment Quarterly ArtVitae.com - Summer 2003
Matar: Wealth of Artistic creativity and abundance of mesmerizing
multidimensional colors; The Last Hurrah of the last great masters
of the grand Orient By David Nye
Figs from Lebanon; Searching for my origins and making good on
a promise (Part One): The Journey To Kafaraka
By Dr. Hugo Franco
(In English - May 2005)
Guérillot, Writer - Of 19 August 2006
Joseph MATAR, light personified by Poetess Andrée Thoumy
Joseph Matar at Edde by Souraya Kanaan Abi Fares (
Joseph Matar from his
brushes light is born!
Joseph Matar is first and foremost
a personality, a painter but also a poet who handles words as
dexterously as his brushes. His paintings have ever read like
poems and his poems like paintings. Although he cannot bear
to remain in the sun, he paints light itself. He brings down
to his canvases that element that the solar star diffuses and
that emanates from certain men. For this artist overflowing
with life, painting "is made of touches that one must feel
and of colours that have to be lived" .
Mr. Joseph MATAR,
Better than words, your brush
speaks of pure air and of vagueness, of the palm and the sacred
tree, and hangs on our lips the ecstasy of beauty, while the
sordid agglomerations fall in ruin. Manipulator
of light, that which streams from your canvases fails to dissipate
the captivating mystery of the Enchanted Bay.
From the embrace of your exhibition, a pure and spontaneous
art achieves its climax. You have shared with our souls a part
of your dreams, bearing us away to unsuspected worlds. Accept
our gratitude for such boundless generosity.
Mattar is one of those poets who are fascinated by the play
of colour deployed in nature. When one regards the canvas taking
form to his touch, one has the impression that it is the world's
beauty in all its completeness which is being renewed.
pursues his objective even to the very smallest details, wishing
thereby to prove - as few know how - the power of the artist
to remain the master of his craft in all its rigour. Yet when
he allows his lyricism to come out, he wishes to show that the
artistic act is not so much a copy of nature as a radical enriching
- even to the furthest recesses of beauty - of that nature separated
from which he is unable to live.
Mattar, then can be placed among that small group of Lebanese
impressionists fascinated by pure beauty and whose personality
should also blossom beyond painting.
the two worlds of the visible and the invisible alike, carried
away into an interior universe and yet communicating intensely
with the great wholeness of life, of Nature and of the Cosmos,
he seeks to express the secret relationship uniting these two
spheres and to deliver us the message they send; for, like the
poet, he knows that beyond the beauty of colours and forms,
through the numberless fantasies and counterpoints of their
encounters, whether real or envisioned,"the perfumes, colours
and sounds answer each other in a deep, dark unity. He is a
mystic, seeking the imprint of divinity.
What an endless task, ever pursued! Canvases innumerable! Tireless!
Exhaustion is a stranger to him! Always overwhelmed with work!
Time for him is a gift of God. He wishes to waste not a moment
of it and to use it to the uttermost, to return and return yet
again to this or that masterpiece still needing some final touches!
Everything is always in constant movement. Passivity, heaviness
and tepidity are all foreign to him! His very love is aggressive!
In the smiling clarity and sincerity of his regard under his
greying hair there sparkle goodness, charm and a love of life.
He overflows with friendship and generosity as he does with
ideas and with dreams! Behind this exubriantly creative will,
one perceives a unique mastery and savoir faire, fuelling a
consuming flame that raises him to the point even of self-sacrifice.
One sees activated in him that which lies within every man,
the echoing image of a Trinity to be adored.
Has this painter a particular style, or some recipe or doctrine?
He belongs to all the so-called schools! He knows all the -isms!
When initiating the young into the secrets of his art, he is
the prisoner of none of them. He belongs to the times, his time,
and also to eternity, that time which the great thinkers of
Greece dared not look in the face, the time of all time, of
the great masters and of universal mankind that seeks to capture
something of the meaning of things, including of life itself.
artist, theorist and technician, free of all burden of system,
he seeks to express himself in light! To him blind chance and
obscurity are repugnant. On every canvas, the interplay of line,
colour and volume falls into place at the close of a hard struggle,
like the victory of a strategist or like some great symphony!
Here is "a nest of verdure where a house rings out a melody"
and there is a whole village rapt in contemplation of the sea.
Beyond stands a vigorous tree that offers the bounty of its
fruit. In yet another place one sees an immense sun beating
down on the plain, a family around a newborn babe, or the golden
glory of an ascending crowd.
Whatever the subject, corners redolent of intimacy, of fellowship,
or of confidences exchanged, the soul of a place or of a being,
the breath of a spirit, he knows how to say them all in a few
masterly strokes. He fascinates us and moves us. To the oriental's
gifts of dreams and fantasy, of the unexpected, of the unrealised
and of mystic ascension, he joins rigour and objectivity, virtues
of the occidental attentive to his own time and anxious for
renewal. Under his brush or his spatula his colours, whether
thinly laid on or applied in depth, spring to life, tender or
assertive, transparent or forceful, always dominated by that
one will aspiring to beauty and the meaning of life.
begins between '44 and '45, overlooking the sea, the orange groves,
the tall palms, the venerable dwellings, and the one tortuous
road then winding from the capital to the north of the land, past
the enchanting bay of Jounieh on which the statue of the Virgin
cast down its gaze, looking from on high over the immense cloak
of undulating verdure!
was the discovery under his little child's hands one day of pans
holding different colours, the first contact with the magic of
drawings to be coloured. Later came the discovery of light! During
the 'fifties there followed studies, the first venturng out into
the world, and the approach to the great master-painters, Onsi,
Corm, Wehbeh, then the universities of Madrid, Paris and Italy,
apprenticeship and mastery of techniques. But behind the art there
was the wondering attachment to all that touched on the man in
his own country, his house, his village, portrayed in striking
canvases of nature, of work, or of intimate moments. Next came
the first shows of his work, here, in neighbouring countries and
even in America.
were the museums, the art galleries and the exchanges, and all
the time the teaching of his art in the schools and faculties,
with tempestuous zeal, with dynamism, with unrelenting mastery,
knowing neither rest nor weariness and with a passion for art
in its most sacred dimensions, the humble, joyous and brilliant
encounter of the creative artist with the God he wished to copy
and to comprehend.. Here was a poet, a great painter, to mark
this end of a millennary, an inspired thinker with a glowing palette.
...his approach is contagious!
meeting at Lyon remains always fresh in my memory, for time seemed
to slip through our fingers like water that cannot be held in
one's hand. Allow me, Mr. Matar, to share with you my impression
of the man, the poet and the philosopher that you are, one whose
conversation I enjoyed, paying scrupulous attention to it all.
Your work, subjective in its essence, espouses at one and the
same time that which is exotic and that which is sacred. It is
an expressive reality joined by a flow of romantic poetry in which
exaltation of heart and mind shows itself in harmonious order.
and art critic, Quebec
flow of words, words that revolve around a theme of the present!
Joseph Matar, a painter with keen observation, carried away by
a pictorial sixth sense, has the power of the word in all its
expressive wealth, that word which for him is synonymous with
action: "I believe that original sin was a sin against the
word, a sin therefore against action." Joseph Matar, painter
poet, mystical artist, a pioneer of sacred art, delivers us to
ecstacy by his achievement. With heart, spirit and learning, Joseph
Matar opens the way to dialogue in his painting. This dialogue
is a spiritual one. It is an earthly and human citizenship, reaching
to scrutinise even the domain of the cosmos.
mere stroke of the brush, the slightest suggestion of colour,
and lo and behold! there in front of you is the very pinnacle
of the talent of Matar. Nobody better than he can create this
atmosphere of religion and of simplicity that he conveys in his
canvases so rich in diverse tonalities and in cunningly structured
harmonies conjugated in counterpoint. Here is fine work distinguished
by its intensity.
Matar has the gift of seeing and of making others see. Between
his fingers the artist's colours, soft and gentle, docile and
obedient, spread out in fluid stretches of sea, sky or light,
or sometimes break away in tortured furrows where violence and
contrast are expressed in flowing forms moulded with so much energy
that the canvas is covered with bold reliefs and highly strung
was struck by this sincere simplicity, this mystic beauty and
this freshness. You open our eyes and our soul to the true
values in the midst of the tumult which engulfs us.
universe of love and of hope is truly revealed in this multiplicity
of tongues which characterises the pictorial language of Matar.
Polyglot as he is where painting is concerned, his colours release
into the air the fragrace of roses and of almond trees. One central
idea, never exhausted, shows itself always full of life, the idea
of Lebanon and man. His very brushes seem drawn into the vertiginous
whirl of the artist's wild abandon.
Matar is not only an interpreter of sacred art but also a poet
of the mountains of Lebanon. His works breath joy, optimism, and
an admiration for all that is created. His masterpieces are poems
of love and hymns to light.
art is difficult and undefinable. The artist must communicate
his emotions when faced with what is holy. Every canvas is religious
and all art is sacred. Joseph Matar belongs to that category
of young Lebanese artists who, without deliberately trying to
astonish, have made their reputation as painters of poetic reality,
while his own works bear the imprint of his temperament, biting,
jovial, powerful and sensitive all at the same time. Whatever
subject he approaches is treated with a poetry glowing with
sincerity. His work expresses a passion for colour, which he
highlights with flashes of the most brilliant intensity. All
is blended in a sincerity acquired without constraint.
I am delighted to
see Joseph Matar's recent paintings. I am moved, more than ever
before, to see them.
Paintings of groups touched
me, in a special way, and reminded me of the old country and
the village, especially in the summer when we used to eat outside
on the balcony in the evenings. They made the longing to my
village home stronger, after 20 years of being away. His paintings
brought to life the good people of the Lebanese village, with
His choice of themes and selection of colors awaken warm memories
of beautiful summer evenings or wonderful days in winter or
any season. Further, his work opens a forgotten window on the
real kind of people the folks from my old homeland are. Also,
he puts us all, who come from Lebanese origin, in a better light
in the world.
Master Joseph Matar is another giant from Lebanon who makes
me proud of my heritage and old country. I surely hope that
he continues to receive the recognition and appreciation which
With my profound respect and admiration,