Here is an artist who loves thick paint, thereby creating relief. Using a palette knife, with long strokes, he glorifies the natural Mediterranean scenery. He loves its light, its cheerful and exhilarating colours, occasionally tempered by the intense sunlight.
Although he had lived in France for over 30 years and enjoyed its charms, deep in his soul he had kept the memory of his sunny Lebanon which he rediscovered in the ports and countryside of the south of France.
Born in Beirut in Lebanon in January 1944, Robert Messarra passed away in October 2012 in the south of France.
Messara, became aware of his artistic call as early as the sixties. He studied art at the ALBA (Académie Libanaise des Beaux Arts) and continued his studies at the Pietro Vanucci de Pérouse Academy in Italy.
His first works are marked by a dichotomy between the dazzling beauty of nature and the Mediterranean luminosity on the one hand and, on the other, the tragic feeling of existence; he had lost both his mother and father very early in life. On top of that, shattered by Lebanon’s civil war, he sought refuge in France where he relentlessly pursued his art.
In spite of his being uprooted, his paintings express a ‘joie de vivre’ against a background of flaming natural phenomena; they also reveal both his nostalgia for his lost idyllic life before the war and a constant quest for spirituality. His long years of exile in Paris, a city which he personally found cheerless, did not affect his determination to represent the beauty of his lost homeland.
After numerous travels in southern Europe, especially in Italy and Greece, in 2006 he decided to settle in Carcassonne in the Languedoc-Roussillon in the south of France. It is there that he died on the 22nd of October 2012.
Still young, his work had been noticed by French and Lebanese critics. His talent was recognized when in 1996 he was awarded the Médaille d’Argent, Mérite et Dévouement and in 1997 by the Médaille de Bronze des Arts, Sciences et Lettres. In 2002, a Japanese society, The Wind to Future, commissioned him to illustrate with his paintings a widely distributed calendar. In 2011 The Middle East Airlines devoted a long article to him in its magazine, Cedar Wings. Already in 1982, the Galerie Chahine in Beirut had mentioned his work in a retrospective review of Lebanese painting, A Hundred Years of Plastic Art in Lebanon (1880 – 1080).
Since 2001, Messarra has been listed in the reference books of painters, AKOUN, and in ART PRICE INDICATOR. His main exhibitions took place in Beirut from 1971 to 1975, then in Paris in the Galerie M Davaud (rue de Seine), the Galerie Decoart et the Galerie de L’Isle (Ile St Louis) as well as La Sorbonne, in Lyon (Galerie St Paul), in St Paul de Vence, Barbizon, Béziers, le Castelet (near Marseille), Strasbourg and Mulhouse. At the 1972 universal exhibition in Brussels, he represented Lebanese painting.
He painted mostly with a palette knife and his style is distinguished by the sculpture-like use of the medium and the intensity of his colours. Beside France and Lebanon, his works are found in the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia.