Nabil Nahas b. 1949


Nabil Nahas was born in Beirut in 1949 and for the first 10 years of his life, he lived in Cairo. He completed a BFA from Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge in 1971 and an MFA from Yale University in 1973.


Nahas is Lebanon’s most renowned living painter, having established himself before the current heightened interest in contemporary art of the Middle East, first in New York art circles as a master of colour, texture and atmosphere. Although thoroughly schooled in Western abstract painting, Nahas takes his inspiration from a diverse range of influences, most significantly nature, and occasionally Islamic art, in particular its abstract geometric and chromatic qualities. Of his many series, those for which he is best known are his thickly encrusted starfish and fractal paintings, built up by layer upon layer of acrylic paint mixed with pumice and finished in vivid colours, and his landscapes, which are expressive portraits of cedars, olive trees and palms, which reconnect him to the places of his childhood, Lebanon and Egypt.


He has participated in several solo exhibitions including: Nabil Nahas, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Hong Kong, 2018; Nabil Nahas, Saleh Barakat Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon, 2016; Nabil Nahas: Pheonix Dactylifera, Ben Brown Fine Arts, London, UK, 2014; Nabil Nahas, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, UAE, 2013; Sperone Westwater, New York, USA, 2013; Nabil Nahas, Ben Brown Fine Arts, London, UK, 2011; Palms and Stars, Lawrie Shabibi, UAE, 2011; Works 1970, Beirut Exhibition Center (BEC), Lebanon, 2010; Cedrus Libani: Roots and Memory, FIAF Gallery, New York, USA, 2010; and Untitled (trees), Galerie Tanit, Munich, Germany, 2009.


Nahas has previously taken part in numerous group exhibitions including: Dallas Art Fair, with Lawrie Shabibi, Texas, USA,  2017; Art Dubai Contemporary, with Lawrie Shabibi, UAE, 2017; Abu Dhabi Art, with Lawrie Shabibi, UAE, 2016;  Jardins d’Orient, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France, 2016; Dallas Art Fair, with Lawrie Shabibi, Dallas, Texas, USA, 2016; Art Dubai Contemporary, with Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, UAE, 2015; Abu Dhabi Art, with Lawrie Shabibi, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 2014; New Acquisitions, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 2012; Glasstress New York: New Art from the Venice Biennale, Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), New York, USA, 2012; Glasstress 2011: Collateral Event of the 54th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, Berengo Centre for Contemporary Art and Glass, Campiello della Pescheria, Murano, Italy, 2011; Wake Forest University, Casa Artom, Murano, Venice, Italy, 2011; BARAKAT: The Gift. Contemporary Art from the Middle East and Africa, Stux Gallery, New York, USA, 2010; Blobs, Wiggles and Dots, Webs and Crustillations, The Work Space, New York, USA, 2002; Invitational Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, American Academy of Arts and letters, New York, USA, 2002; XXV Bienal de São Paulo 2002, São Paulo, Brazil, 2002; American Fractals, Blanden Memorial Art Museum, Fort Dodge, Iowa, USA, 2002; Green on Greene, Sperone Westwater, New York, USA, 2001; Painting Abstraction II, New York Studio School, New York, USA, 2001; Le Temps Fractal, Galerie Xippas, Paris, France, 2000; Arte Americana; Ultimo Decennio, Museo d’Arte della Citta di Ravenna, Ravenna, Italy, 2000; Souvenirs: Collecting, Memory, and Material Culture, The Museum Guild Hall, New York, USA, 1999; FIAC, with Sperone Westwater, Paris, France, 1999; Group Exhibition, Sperone Westwater, NY, USA, 1999;FIAC, with Sperone Westwater, Paris, France, 1998; What’s Hot, Baumgartner Galleries, Washington DC, USA, 1997; FIAC, with Sperone Westwater, Paris, France, 1997 and Galerie Tanit, Munich, Germany, 1997.


His works can be found in the collections of Tate Modern in London, UK; the British Museum, London, UK; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, NY, USA; the Vorhees Zimmerli Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA; the Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine, USA; the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Barjeel Foundation, Sharjah, UAE; the Flint Institute of Art, Michigan, USA; the Michigan Museum of Art UMMA, Michigan, USA; the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar; and the High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


In July 2013 he was awarded the honour of the National Order of the Cedar, for services to Lebanese culture.


Nahas currently lives and works in New York.