American University of Beirut

Artworks on Campus​

​​​Poem of Four Verses by Saloua Raouda Choucair

AUB Art Galleries and Collections is pleased to announce the installation on campus of a major sculpture by renowned Lebanese artist, Saloua Raouda Choucair (1916-2017).

The sculpture is entitled Poem of Four Verses. It was first designed in the early 1960s, and a small model of it was made at that time, although the artist always intended for it to be executed on a monumental scale. The work, as it now stands in its location just to the east of Jafet Library, is 2.7 meters tall, and weighs some seven tons. It is comprised of four individual blocks of the local stone known as testa, and was made by the stone mason Samah Gharzeddine, who worked regularly with the artist for a period stretching over decades. It took Mr. Gharzeddine four years (2014-17) to complete the work. There are no interconnecting rods between the blocks, nor is there any use of additional fixative materials, such as cement. The entire work is held together only by the perfect balance of the individual units.

As the title suggests, the sculpture is conceived of on the model of a poem which is composed of individual verses, each being a discreet unit with its own characteristics, yet, when combined, coalesce to form a single, harmonious whole. Throughout her life, the artist was inspired by the structure, rhythms and beauty of Arabic poetry, and sought to translate those features into two-and-three dimensional visual forms. The viewer is encouraged to walk around this extraordinary artwork, viewing it from all sides and angles, including above and below, in order to discover both the multiple internal relationships existing between the various parts, and the overall unified coherence that it achieves.  

AUB Art Galleries and Collections gratefully acknowledges the efforts of Mrs. Hala Schoukair, daughter of the artist, the Saloua Raouda Choucair Foundation, and the anonymous donor who made the execution of the sculpture possible.​ The official inauguration of the work took place on October 18, 2018.

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