Hussein Madi

b. 1938 Chebaa, Lebanon, Hussein Madi lives and works in Beirut.

Seminal Lebanese painter, sculptor and printmaker, Hussein Madi is best known for his colourful works that harmonise abstract design with Islamic art.

 In 1962, after completing his studies at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts in Beirut Madi worked in Baghdad, Iraq for a short period of time before moving to Rome, Italy in 1963 to complete his studies at the Accademia di Belle Arti.  

 Madi was based in Rome for much of the Seventies and Eighties, studying everything from frescoes and mosaics to sculpture techniques in bronze and wax while continuing to teach at the National Art Institute of the Lebanese University, Beirut in parallel. In 1973, he made the first of his now famous alphabetic works, for which he created a grid of forms representing visual riffs on the letters of the Arabic alphabet. Over time Madi developed several of those forms into symbolic figures that were oft-repeated in his oeuvre. In 1986 Madi re-located to Beirut where he has been working ever since.  

Aside from his alphabetic works, Madi’s subjects are typically living matter, oscillating between horses, birds, and vampish renditions of the female form. Inspired by European artists likes Matisse and Picasso, Madi displays superb draftsmanship, his eye notably sensitive to the linear definition of form.  

In the past decade Madi has become one of the most commercially successful artists in the Middle East setting a record in 2018 with the sale of his Baghdad Landscape painting, which sold at auction for $75,000.

His first solo exhibitions were held at Dar El-Fann Gallery, Beirut and Poliedro Gallery, Rome (1968). Madi has since had more than sixty solo exhibitions across the world including Cortina Gallery, Milan, Italy (1972); Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France (1989); Atassi Gallery, Damascus, Syria (1993); Alice Moghabghab Gallery, Beirut (1995) and Menasart, Beirut, Lebanon (2012).

His works have been displayed in the Ueno Museum, Tokyo, Japan (1972); British Museum, London, UK (1990); Sharjah Museum, UAE (1997) and included in the Alexandria Biennale, Egypt (1965, 1967); First International Biennale, Cairo, Egypt (1994) and the 23rd International Biennale, Sao Paulo, Brazil (1996).

Madi presented his work at the Venice Biennale (2003) and was awarded Order of the Star by the Italian Government for outstanding contribution to the country during the same year.