Debuting the artist’s latest body of work, Civilised Society will feature paintings that satirically explore the realm of politics in the Arab world through its various archetypes. Deconstructing the historical tradition of portraiture as a demonstration of power or social status, Salman scrutinises the public posturing of political figures—from armchair activists to international delegates.
Underlining each composition is the frequent point of departure of all his work, namely how the corrupted state of society can be read in the intricacies of daily life, above all in the formation of identities based on constructed realities, and the hypocrisy with which such personas are often built.
At the same time, the new series demonstrates a shift in Kais Salman‘s (b. 1976, Syria) painting style as he employs a brilliant palette with a combination of expressionism and realism and introduces vividly described settings. These formal elements draw the viewer into each composition as mundane trappings surround monstrous figures. In The Anonymous Arab a protagonist is enlivened by painterly brushmarks as he holds a meticulously rendered mask of the international hacktivist group. Outfitted in a tuxedo while lounging on an antique sofa, he is portrayed as a self-assured dandy experiencing a life of privilege.
The insignia of ISIS is depicted among the many luxury fashion logos that make up the backdrop of a red carpet event in the painting Brands. Television cameras capture a dapper figure that is ready for his close up, as the artist comments on the intersections of mass consumption and media in the spectacle of the political arena, particularly the enabling of terrorist groups as they gain ground through savvy marketing and multimedia propaganda.
In his recent paintings, the artist focuses on the purported indicators of ‘advanced’ society, revealing the faulty foundation of the culture that drives it.
- The Anonymous Arab, 2014. Courtesy of Ayyam Gallery.
- UN Mission, 2014. Courtesy of Ayyam Gallery.