Starting his career as a self-taught artist, Aref el Rayess (1928) is regarded as a pioneer and an avant-garde Lebanese Modernist. He was influenced by his travels to Senegal, Paris, Italy and Jeddah where he lived, worked and exhibited for periods of time. In Paris, he studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière where he frequented the studios of Fernand Léger, André Lhote, Marcelle Marso and Ossip Zadkine.
Aref el Rayess participated in many international exhibitions, including: Sao Paulo Biennale; Bagdad Biennale; Unesco exhibition, Montreal; Mall Galleries, London; Sursock Museum, Beirut; among others. He won several awards from the Lebanese Ministry of National Education Award, Unesco Prize, Ministry of Public Works; Sursock Museum and Ministry of Tourism. Former President of the Lebanese Association of Painters and Sculptors, Rayess taught for many years at the Lebanese University and the American Lebanese University.