The name Rachana, derived from the Phoenician language, meaning “the small peak,” originally resonated only with this coastal Lebanese village’s population of less than 1,000 inhabitants; now, however, for people around the world, Rachana immediately calls to mind the Basbous brothers – Michel, Youssef, and Alfred – who were amongst Lebanon’s finest sculptors and the source of Rachana’s fame. As Alfred Basbous once said to writer Yaqzan al-Taqi, who like so many others had come to witness the renowned sculptures on display in Rachana, “Much sculpting is taking place here and it is being felt at an international level. Rachana will be remembered in 200 years, 300 years, even 1,000 years.” Rachana’s name gained significance in the field of arts when the Basbous brothers (Michel, Alfred, and Youssef) spread their sculptures all over the town, transforming it into an open air museum. This talent was passed on to the second generation of Basbous family, who preserved the family’s art school.
In 1994, the brothers Alfred and Youssef Basbous hosted the “International Sculptor Atelier” in Rachana, through which a number of international sculptors of different nationalities left their works in the village. This event still takes place during the month of August of each year, and new sculptures are added every year alongside the sculptures of the Basbous family. As a result of this active sculpture project, Rachana has been named the “International Capital of Sculpture in Open Air” by UNESCO.
Youssef died in 2001.
This bio was extracted from an essay by Nancy Linthicum that appeared in
Al Jadid, Vol. 11, no. 52 (Summer 2005); Copyright (c) 2005 by Al Jadid.
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Youssef Basbous, the youngest of three brothers who were gifted sculptors, was born at Rachana, Lebanon in 1926. He worked with stones since his childhood and he learned the basics of sculpture from his elder brother Michel. He started sculpture works in 1958. He works with stones, wood and metal.
In 1994, with his brother Alfred, Youssef organized the first International Forum of Sculpture at Rachana. Since then, The Forum has become an annual international Art event.