Notre Dame University



Artist Maurice Salamé presents LERC with one of his paintings

By Guita Hourani, Director of LERC

Before returning to Lebanon from her mission to Australia, Ms. Hourani received an original paining by Mr. Maurice Salamé as a gift to the Lebanese Migration University Museum at NDU.

Evacuation, (Acrylic on hardboard) by artist Maurice Salamé, 2006 Given as a gift to LERC, Sydney (July 2008).


Painted in acrylic on hardboard and completed in 2006, the painting Evacuation measures 130 x 92 centimeters. Its composition falls into three sections. At the center, a composition of several adults and children figures in red and black, some are falling to their death, others stretch their hands upwards in a state of panic, fright and disarray, the Crucified is a metaphor symbolizing tragedy and continuous crucifixion besetting the people and the country of Lebanon; a man blowing desperately on a horn sounds distress. This section shows the brutality of the war and its cause of human suffering.

To the right side of the painting, the foreground portrays shattered buildings and a grey sky splattered with blood, full of rumblings and motion, while the explosive blasts are represented by the yellow color and the flashing white represents the scar on the face of beloved Lebanon.

The left section of the painting represents the flight by sea. In this section the focus is on the road that the evacuees were taking to reach the evacuation ships. The road is flanked by figures who are walking toward the sea while their eyes are fixated on the sky, the source of death and destruction.

According to Painter Salamé, the painting reflects “The emotionally moving experience of the 'Evacuation’”, which “is translated in segments of colors, broken lines…”


The painting, which is entitled Evacuation 2006, was executed by the artist basing himself on his own experience as an evacuee of the July 2006 War. The strong emotions and reflections are shown by the large size of the painting and the use of broad brush strokes with strong bright and dark colors and symbols depicting the bloody and violent aspect of the war and the grim atmosphere of evacuation, and attention is drawn to the destruction of men and environment.

Mr. and Mrs. Salamé, who left Lebanon in 1975, were in Lebanon visiting the country and their families when the 2006 war erupted. They stayed throughout the war hoping everyday for its end. They were finally obliged to leave on the last evacuation ship organized by the Australian government. They were transported to Turkey and from there to Australia. The emotional and psychological experience of the war and the evacuation of Mr. Salamé were documented in this painting, which is now part of LERC museum collection.

Mr. Salamé was born in KfarZebian, Kesrawan, Lebanon. The beauty of his village’s physical environment imprinted on him a love for colors. His natural talent was recognized and fostered through the studying of art as apprentice of two prominent Lebanese artists, Omar Onsi and Assaad Renno, and later as a student of the International School in Paris. In 1963, the Lebanese Government awarded Mr. Salamé a scholarship for further studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, Italy. In 1966 he was the recipient of the Academy’s prestigious Minerva Medal for the best student in painting. In the same year he held his first solo exhibition in Beirut. Throughout his career as an artist he exhibited in Rome, Lebanon, Australia, and Nigeria. His work is displayed in private collections in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the United States, and Australia.