Bibi Zogbe [1890-1973] : Hortensias (hydrangea), ca.1940-50.

Bibi Zogbe [1890-1973]
Lebanese/ Argentine
Hortensias, ca.1940-50
Oil on board
19 x 17 inches
Untouched estate condition.

Bibi Zogbe [1890-1973]
Bibi Zogbé, born Labibé Zogbé in 1890, was a pioneering Lebanese artist whose work holds a significant place in the canon of modern Arab art. Born to a wealthy Lebanese family in the small coastal town of Sahel Alma, Lebanon, she grew up receiving a French education at a local Catholic school and later at the Sainte Famille College in Beirut​​. At the age of sixteen, in 1906, she moved to Argentina following an arranged marriage to Domingo Samaja, a wealthy Lebanese-Argentinian immigrant​​.

Despite her divorce from Samaja in the early 1930s, Zogbé’s many travels with him to Paris had fostered her enduring love of art​​. She permanently settled in Buenos Aires, where she was part of a substantial Lebanese-Argentine community​​. Zogbé began exhibiting her work in Argentinian galleries in the 1930s, with her first solo exhibition at the Whitcomb Gallery in Buenos Aires in 1934. She also held shows in Paris, Chile, Brazil, and Uruguay​​.

Zogbé was known as “La Pintura de Flores” or “the flower painter” for her frequent depictions of wild flowers and plants, such as cacti, chrysanthemums, and hydrangeas. While most of her work was created in Argentina, she often focused on the colorful plant life native to Lebanon​​. In 1947, Zogbé was featured in publications funded by the Lebanese government about three national artists and was awarded the Lebanese Cedar Medallion of Excellence for her artistic contributions​​​​.

Zogbé’s love for Lebanon greatly influenced her painting, and she maintained gardens in her residences in Buenos Aires and Punta del Este, Uruguay, which reflected her memories of Lebanon​​. During her time in Paris in the early 1920s, she mingled with the cultural avant-garde and befriended Tamara de Lempicka, who painted a portrait of Zogbé in 1923, leading to her epithet “La Pintora de las Flores”​​.

In the 21st century, Zogbé began to gain more recognition as a pioneering Lebanese woman artist and a significant figure in Arab modernist art. Her works, known for their vivid colors and symbolic meanings, have been displayed in exhibits and museums, including a 2022 exhibit at the Beirut gallery, Galerie Tanit​​. Bibi Zogbé passed away in 1973​​.