• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7665

    International Modern and Contemporary Art

    30 April 2008, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel

  • Lot 5

    Louay Kayyali (Syrian, 1934-1978)

    Motherhood

    Price Realised  

    Louay Kayyali (Syrian, 1934-1978)
    Motherhood
    signed and dated in Arabic (lower right); signed, titled and dated in Arabic (on the reverse)
    oil on masonite
    37¼ x 29½in. (95 x 75.5cm.)
    Painted in 1974


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    Following the 1967 war with Israel, which broke out in June and resulted in the occupation of Arab territories, Louay Kayyali fell into deep depression. He destroyed the thirty works in the exhibition entitled For the Cause held in April that year, and stopped painting for several years. He left Damascus to live in Aleppo in seclusion and eventually resumed working.

    This was a time of immense upheaval in the Arab world, and Kayyali's focus changed dramatically, from society portraiture to socio-political concerns. His 1970s paintings externalise the pressing humanitarian and political issues that surrounded him. His powerful depictions of ordinary people are characterized by strong fluid lines that define the figures and the absence of extraneous detail. Although reminiscent of Russian social realist painting, through his humane treatment of his subjects he conferred them with more individuality and pathos.

    In the present work he blends these concerns with the motif of the Madonna and Child from Syrian icon painting to produce an image that it is both rooted in the history of the country but also one speaks to the Syrians of his generation.