Period: 20th century
Abbés SALADI (1950-1992).
Snake Heads (Family) and Couple under a Tree along the Pond's Edge.
To drawings recto verso on a sheet:
- colored pencil, rubbings and China ink signed lower right.
- colored pencil and China ink.
Stains, slight tear and crease, traces of adhesive tape.
32 x 24 cm (12-1/2 x 9-1/4 in.).
Saladi, a self-taught artist inspired by imagination, possesses a world of his own, remarkable works, a painter who does not fall into any Moroccan art history category during the last decades.
Pauline de Mazières presents the artist's work in the catalogue for the exhibition at Villa des Arts held in 1999-2000, Casablanca, Morocco :
« The first works are « remplies » (filled), - which drew the attention of the Director of the American Language Center at place Jamaà el Fna- were embellished with a multitude of signs, details, stories, teeming universe that were bewitching and enigmatic. Then in the early 80s, the drawing simplified, structured, organized, thus becoming almost ethereal. During certain difficult times particularly marked by suffering and illness, the drawings takes a turn becoming obsessively meticulous and hallucinatory. Towards the end of those years, the emphasis is on exuberant gardens teeming with luxuriant greenery where relaxing men converse with birds. Birds, a recurring theme, are omnipresent in Saladi's works and encompass his works from beginning to the end like Ariadne's thread.
The paintings of the last few years, those of success and fame recall the drawings of figures " with face" of his early career, but as crushed, flattened, grotesque, almost caricatures and all this in various combinations and always in the same shades of blue, pinks and yellows. "
Solo exhibitions :
- 1978 : American Language Center, Marrakech, Morocco
- 1979 :
1) Centre culturel français, Marrakech, Morocco
2) Galerie Ambre, Marrakech, Morocco
3) Club Méditerranée, Marrakech, Morocco
4) Hôtel Saâdi, Marrakech, Morocco
1) Galerie 77, Marrakech, Morocco
2) American Language Center, Marrakech, Morocco
- 1982 : Galerie l'Atelier, Rabat, Morocco
- 1984 : Galerie l'Atelier, Rabat, Morocco
- 1985 :
1) Galerie Jean-Marie Cupillard, Grenoble, France
2) Galerie l'Atelier, Rabat, Morocco
- 1986 : Centre culturel français, Marrakech, Morocco
- 1987 : Hôtel Tichka, Marrakech, Morocco
- 1988 Chorfi Art Gallery, Casablanca, Morocco
- 1999 : Galerie Bab Doukkala, Marrakech, Morocco
- 1992 : Galerie Bassamat, Casablanca, Morocco
- 1999-2000 : Villa des Arts, Casablanca, Morocco
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"If some painters transpose the tangible world, we follow Saladi on the same route, but in reverse. It is an internal world that we discover through a silent descent within ourselves."
(Noureddine Bousfiha. Extract from an article published in the journal, Traces du présent, No. 1, September 1993 under the title: «Abbes Saladi ou le silence de la sève et l'attente de l'illumination espérée» [Abbés Saladi Or the silence of the sap and waiting for expected enlightenment]).
Abbés Saladi is one of the great names of the Moroccan painting today. His works are not only in exhibitions but in auctions as well. They are also at the center of a scandal involving fake paintings which highlights his extreme popularity.
Abbés Saladi’s strokes are easily recognizable by the fine lines, ornamentation and the subtle transparent colors. His subjects are complex because they have a convoluted assembly of religious symbols, popular Arab-Muslim forms, philosophical allegories and specific images from Saladi’s imagination.
The biography of Abbés Saladi gives us some clues to decipher the world of his fanciful creatures. But there are too few documents to reconstruct his life events and dating his art.
At age five he lost his father and was sent by his mother to Casablanca to her uncle. The family rupture was certainly difficult for the boy but this period designated his development of thoughtful and imaginative personality for the future painter. Loneliness was a pattern in his life and it is reflected in all his paintings.
He studied philosophy at the University until his hospitalization in the psychiatric center Errazi de Salé.There he discovered his talent as a painter.
"His works are a world of silence and fatality. An air of captivity crosses Saladi’s paintings because they are born in solitude and illness" wrote Abderrazzak Benchaâbane in his text "Abbès Saladi, The Song of the Captive Bird" published during Saladi the exhibition at the French Cultural Centre in Marrakech ("Abbès Saladi, un monde féerique " [magical world], MARSAM-2006).
The dual face drawing presented by Expertissim shows two creative ways in his polarity. The scene with a couple by a pond is drawn in a naive-realistic style, quite rare for works by Abbès Saladi. One sees an intention to create a classical perspective (although sometimes it is distorted) and the traditional shapes. His subject is easy to read.
The image of the allegorized family scene located on the painting’s other side is of a style that can be compared to Surrealism. This drawing is a kind of childhood revenge for the painter’s family and is a display of his dream. Harmony and affection connect the hybrid figures of father, mother and child who gather amongst human, animal and vegetable configurations.
We can find different symbolic connotations on this unreal composition. An image of Islam’s serpent is associated closely with life and represents El-Hay - one of the most important names of God. It signifies "enlivening" which offers life and what is life itself . This painting can be interpreted as an idyllic image of the rebirth of the author's family, where the father returned to the living world and his family. In a story of Adam and Hawa in the Qur'an the snake is presented in a destructive role of the the first couple’s happiness. This inverted reading gives meaning to Abbès Saladi’s composition.
The myth, universal by definition, with Abbès Saladi is personal, private and essential for discovering the deeply buried. In these images, the recognizable elements of the outside world illustrate his imaginary world.
It is rare to find this world-renowned artist on the French art market.
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