Samir Khaddaj was born in 1939, in Kfar Matta, a small village in the Chouf mountains.
A professional draftsman, he developed an interest in the arts and quickly assimilated the European artistic experience of the twentieth century through many visits to European capitals and participation in collective painting workshops and group theater events.
The evolution of his personal style in painting was arrested by the continued aggravation of the civil disturbances in Lebanon.
Like many artists and writers who lived in Beirut at the time, he was unable to cope singly with the overwhelming subject of a war that pervaded every aspect of daily life. Feeling the futility of dealing with any other subject, Khaddaje chose not to produce any individual paintings during the last years of the war. He did, however, continue experimenting with collective works. Ten large paintings dealing with the war, or life under it, co-signed with Marc Mourani were displayed at the Carlton Hotel in 1989, along with 60 of Khaddaje’s early individual paintings.
Khaddaje moved to Paris in 1990 where he was granted a work and living space in the basement of the Cognac-Jay Hospital. The distancing from the war liberated Khaddaje’s creativity. His first individual representation of war, after years of silence, came out as strident bursts of shrapnel. It was displayed under the aptly chosen name of “Eclats” in 1992, in the exhibition hall of Montreuil, a space large enough to accommodate the 300 mostly very large paintings he had created during his first years in Paris.
Numerous exhibitions and installations followed in France, England and Lebanon. The most notable ones are:
- The 1993 exhibit that covered practically all the grounds of the French Cultural Center in Beirut and which attracted thousands of visitors.
- The UNESCO Palace installation-exhibit of 1999.
- The spectacular 2002 installation-exhibit “Satyricon” in the war-ravaged Dome building in downtown Beirut.