• International Modern & Contemp auction at Christies

    Sale 7804

    International Modern & Contemporary Art

    27 October 2009, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel

  • Lot 6

    Louay Kayyali (Syrian, 1934-1978)

    The Flute Seller

    Price Realised  


    Louay Kayyali (Syrian, 1934-1978)
    The Flute Seller
    signed and dated in Arabic (lower left)
    oil on masonite
    37 x 29¼in. (94 x 74cm.)
    Painted in 1973

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    With a poetic subtlety Kayyali captures the wonderfully poignant expression in the eyes of this flute seller, emphasized by his use of blue throughout the composition.
    Melancholy and resignation best characterize much of Kayyali's work after the 1967 war and the sentiments of political failure in the Arab World in general. Active during a time of immense upheaval, Kayyali was one of the region's most prominent socio-political artists, his paintings externalising 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. A recurrent theme in his work was the desolation and misery of social outsiders, his trauma finding expression in a series of deeply sentimental paintings. These include beggars, street vendors, and marginalized people of society, all in despair. His depictions of these characters embodied the sentiments of the artists and intellectuals of Syria at the time.

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