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Louay Kayyali (Syrian, 1934-1978)
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Louay Kayyali (Syrian, 1934-1978)

Boy Reading

Details
Louay Kayyali (Syrian, 1934-1978)
Boy Reading
signed and indistinctly dated 'Kayyali' (lower left)
oil on canvas
37 3/8 x 29½in. (95 x 75cm.)
Painted circa late 1960s
Provenance
Jalileh Yousef Kabboushi Collection, Damascus.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Special Notice

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Lot Essay

Louay Kayyali's early works reveal a rhetorical style idealising the imperfections of a nation and were influenced by the 'Grand Manner' style of painting which resulted in more dramatic and pompous compositions. However, Kayyali's later works reveal a more mature style as the artist moved away from choosing his family members and close friends as models for his paintings and instead searched for inspiration in the street with its diverse blend of people and ever inspiring stories.

Reminiscent of Russian Socio-realist paintings whereby reality was depicted in a way to convey an underlying political message, Kayyali's works reveal the individuality and the pathos of his subjects through a humane treatment of their features and postures. Kayyali's new style, exceptionally poetic, somehow revealed the upheaval taking place at the time in Syria and in the Arab world.

It was indeed a time of confusion when people wondered what had forced their nation to sink into disillusion and observed, with despair, the outer political tightening on their country. Kayyali consequently used his paintings to highlight the lack of education, the spread of ignorance within the nation and the uncontrolled mass immigration of under privileged people to the big cities. From the 1960s, Kayyali portrayed this new reality by choosing inspiring, yet ordinary characters in order to convey a social message to his people. Louay Kayyali focused on then facial expressions of his models with particular emphasis on the gaze to stress the importance of eye-contact - a notion that
was revered by most intellectual circles. In Boy Reading, the boy's eyes are shut and he appears in deep thoughts while light emanates from the book he is holding in his hands. His monumental body, occupying most of the composition, reveals his respectable and affectionate attitude. Subtle and elegant in its composition, the work is an outstanding example from Louay Kayyali's Readers series.

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