DUBAI.- In his older works, Kais Salman utilises satire to subvert the normalisation of greed, vanity, and ideological extremism that is rapidly defining our era. Seeking to confront and exorcise sociocultural manifestations of such depravity, Salman taps into ugliness and abjection through intentionally hyperbolised imagery accentuated by punches of colour and aestheticised forms. In his latest series, the artist takes these forms and explores their abstraction, in search of new compositions.
Drawing upon folktales, epics, and myths, Salman creates alternate realities in which the characters he introduces, sometimes seen lined side by side, make up the basis of these worlds or cities. Introducing more figures than in his older works, each takes on an interdependent role, playing a part in the collective consciousness of a place and the work. The artist explores the roles that these characters play in the making up of a social fabric and their part of making up alleys, streets, and entire cities. In many of these works, the figures are placed in imperfect rows and columns, overlapping and interacting, appearing from far as though they are a building they are the columns, floors, and windows they are the make up of a structure. Through this, Salman touches upon the effect a people have on their cities urban architecture and vice versa. The presence of the inhabitants of a place in the streets, the interactions that take place between people, and the overall surrounding environment, are a source of inspiration for Salman, shedding light on the universality of human interaction.
Through the creation of these worlds, Salman aims to blur the line between our personal realities and those imposed on us by varying media channels. The artist does not attempt to recreate specific situations, but rather create new spaces in which the figures in his works come from an exploration of his own imagination. The paintings take the viewer through the many layers of human emotion, ranging from laughter and joy to fear, anger, and existentialism. The artist proposes abstract ideas and the possibility of new potential realities.
As one of Syrias foremost expressionist painters, Salman has contributed to a decades-long artistic tradition that continues to serve as a powerful outlet for social commentary. A consummate formalist, he is recognised as one of the Arab worlds most accomplished painters.
Since the early 2000s, Salman has sought to reflect the psychological violence that occurs when excess becomes rationalised and accepted by societies. Political corruption, terrorism, consumerism, cosmetic surgery, religious fanaticism, imperialism, and the voyeurism of the digital age have all served as topics of Salmans carnivalesque compositions.
Born in Tartous, Syria in 1976, Salman lives and works in Beirut. He received a Bachelor of Art from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Damascus in 2002, where he trained with leading painters such as Safwan Dahoul.
Solo and group exhibitions for the artist include the Ayyam Gallery Al Quoz, Dubai (2017, 2014, 2011, 2010); Alexandria Biennale (2014); Ayyam Gallery Beirut (2015, 2014, 2012); Ayyam Gallery DIFC, Dubai (2014, 2010); Damascus Museum of Modern Art (2009); The Park Avenue Armory, New York (2008); and Carthage Festival for Coast Mediterranean Sea Artists, Tunisia (2005). Salmans paintings are housed in collections throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. Salman has been featured in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, among other international publications, and was listed for the second time in Arabian Business 100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40 in 2016.