[…] The artist – says Claude Roy*- speaks to us about people's great and continual joy, of that moment when they go through the looking glass, to that side of the mirror where there are no more 'wild', 'civilized', 'backwards' or 'savant' people, but only mortels who for a moment forget they are just mere mortals – and who perhaps no longer are.
*Claude ROY. L’art à la source I. Gallimard, 1992. p. 203
About the exhibition
The autodidact sculptor Boulos Richa was born in 1928 in Jdabra, a village overlooking Batroun where he lived and worked. He passed away in March 2018. After obtaining his Primary School Leaving Certificate from the village school he was naturally drawn to the blacksmith’s work. Richa practised his profession conscientiously and with assiduity and went on to receive the title, awarded by the entire land, of master ironworker, with the surname “Akhwat el-hadid” – “mad about iron”.
Endlessly fascinated by his material, which he heated until red-hot, beated, blazed, hammered, cut, twisted, then chiselled and assembled, the processing techniques and the various manufacturing stages for iron held no secrets for him. From 1964 onwards, along with this know-how, he felt an imperative need for artistic creation. His first works of art were shown to the public in Batroun in 1969.
Other exhibitions followed in Beirut: in 1972, at the AUB Jafet Library; in 1975, at the Galerie Contemporaine; then at the Salon du Printemps organised by the Ministry of National Education. In 1992, the Galerie Brigitte Shéhadé presented the Parisian public with a retrospective of Richa’s work. Since 2007 he has been permanently exhibited at the Galerie Alice Mogabgab in both solo and group shows.
The art of Boulos Richa takes inspiration from what his surroundings presented to him in the way of pebbles, balustrades and other architectural fragments. However, he had a penchant for engine parts, which he found irresistible, from the modest Solex to the most valuable cars. Materials that have been knocked about, fulfilled their time and hardened find themselves reunited, reconstituted and thus given a new life thanks to the artist.
His hands created wonders: Tortoise or frog? Lovers or serpents? Cockerel or cavalier? – you say to yourself. So many amazing creatures, engaging and stimulating. There are no more ‘wild’, ‘civilized’, ‘backwards’ or ‘savant’ people … only art at its source.