To appreciate the significance of the following two lots by Saliba Douaihy one is required to recount the artist's early childhood in the picturesque town of Ehden, nestled among Lebanon's tree covered northern mountains. Douaihy's interest in art was born from frequent visits to churches in his hometown where murals and paintings hung from the monumental ceilings. At the age of fourteen Saliba Douaihy was encouraged to move to the capital Beirut where he became an apprentice to a famous painter Habib Srour. It was during this period that Douaihy acquired the skills of Old Master classical style by painting murals.
At the age of 17 during the autumn of 1932, Douaihy moved to Paris to study at the prestigious Ecole Nationale Suprieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1936, he studied under numerous famous French artists such as Paul Albert Laurence and Louis Roger and was immersed in the French aesthetic style and debate of the time. After graduating, Douaihy returned to Lebanon, where he worked from his studio for the next 18 years. During this period, Douaihy worked laboriously to develop an Impressionist style of colourful compositions of the mountains and valleys of Lebanon before eventually forgoing the thick multi-layered brush strokes for abstract minimal lines.
Douaihy's journey to New York in the 1950s encouraged the artist to embrace an abstract style as he became acquainted with the works of Ad Reinhardt, Hans Hofmann and Mark Rothko. He worked privately in his large studio in the loft of the Maronite Church of Our Lady of Lebanon in Brooklyn Heights, New York.
It was within a context of religious and calm atmosphere in a very vibrant city that he achieved his minimalistic style. Emmanual Kant's philosophical theories influenced Douaihy's style dramatically while he was studying at the New School for Social Research in New York in 1961. From Kant he derived an impetus to find the sublime, to reduce all elements to their most basic form. He considered it challenging to free himself immediately from these long-standing habits and to apply paint in one solid colour on a flat plane. Josef Albers and his infatuations with Japanese prints served as a catalyst that inspired Douaihy's ultimate flatness and infinite space. Douaihy's signature soon became the interlinking of asymmetrical areas using two to three opposing or contrasting, yet complementary colours, in sometimes very small areas, with acute angular lines painted at the extremes of the paintings around a central plane. The first lot exemplifies this with the fine line of the dark blue sky and pink horizon line, separated from the earthy tones of the Mediterranean in the lower part of the composition by a large relaxed sea. The second lot Regeneration is one of Saliba Douaihy's largest abstract paintings and is the grandest to appear at auction. The viewer is enveloped by the centre plane's majestic emerald green, accentuated by the hyper saturated tones of orange and yellow hues in the lower part of the composition. The horizon line is further subdued by the gentle colour of pink, revealing the recent trace of the sunset before time and distance seeps into the thin line of blue sky.
In 1978, Moussa Domit organised a solo show at the North Carolina Museum of Art where both works were exhibited.