Sotheby's is delighted to present two rare cubist works by Al Soliman. These works are the ultimate amalgamation of things seen and experienced, of images that influence and breathe life into his work. Worshippers leaving the Mosque and A Woman Sitting (Afternoon Session) are prime examples of Al Soliman’s affinity for local architecture and nature, and illustrate his artistic techniques and holistic approach. The uncanny resemblance to many European Cubists such as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque demonstrate the mimetic quality of the artist's early body of work – light and shadows in a very sophisticated architectural setting.
It is also important to note that these rare works were produced amid a transitional period in Saudi, against a backdrop of social shifts transpiring in the early 1980s as Saudi society steered towards a more conservative societal trajectory. The transitory period is reflected within the works by means of a retained innocence and romanticism. There is a delicacy depicted through the simplicity of Al Soliman’s works; the subtle colours, strong shadows and peacefulness are a testimony of the artist's love of his country, a place he calls home. One can engage a graceful and forgiving nostalgia delivered through these early Saudi cubist works. Subsequent to the transitory period, local artworks were prone to ambiguity and austerity, deviating from the unadorned influence and innocence of local surroundings.
Al Soliman’s artistic influences can perhaps best be explained by his multifaceted contribution to the art scene. He is both an artist and author. In his role as an art critic he published The March of Saudi Art in 2000, which is an in depth examination of Saudi art, and serves as a source of information for many recent articles and young emerging artists. Currently Al Soliman is the Fine Arts Editor for Al Yaum Newspaper and has been in his role since 1983. Although his text focuses on local art, it gains relevance due to his wider knowledge of art history. Art criticism after all must presume a holistic understanding of the art world. Thus, while his vision is one that approaches Arab art in its totality, he is ultimately an artist whose work is coloured by a multitude of influences, developing his style into one more intimately involved within the context of his local community.
The significance of these two momentous works remain strongly relevant; both works were also recently included in the ground-breaking exhibition at Art Dubai Modern The Feverish Leap into the Fierceness of Life: A look at five artist groups in five Arab cities across five decades in March 2018, curated by Dr. Sam Bardouil and Till Fellrath.
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