Salman Almalik



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"Paces" that trace the path of an Artist, fascinated by the scenery





There is a place where people drop, meet, gather and hurry their paces as if they were awaiting the unknown.  An unknown that will actually disperse them and they will go in all directions as lost lines or clouds in the sky. In his new exhibition, held in Souq Waqif Arts Centre, Doha, Qatar (from June, 2 to  July, 7 - 2009) under the title "Paces", the Qatari artist Salman Al-Malik detects through 23 large size paintings the moving sceneries of human gatherings and the basics of their paths. He deciphers the signs and the dimensions springing from the memory, the efforts of the poetic imagination and the freedom of the color effects.

Salman Al-Malik throws heavy togs of color on his characters' shoulders. They create mass shapes; and when you look at the works you are immediately under the effect of the power of the color contrast. It is an enchanted contrast born from the clash between blue and red. You try to decipher the landmarks of those stylized human shapes expressed with mastery through reduction, expression and illusion. But in reality, this axiomatic approach in the figurative painting and the quick positioning of the faces' features come from an experience that the artist acquired from his passion for caricature; an art that he practiced for a long time in his journalistic career. This expertise nurtured the casual relationship with the shapes that the artist summarizes as quick sketches.

It is presumably the need quid pro quo the limits of the restricted language of black and white that pushed the artist to practice – with voracity – the camaïeu warm colors full of passion and appetite. These instinctive desires, glamorous and sharp suggest that Salman Al-Malik is torn between two trends: painting and coloring. Two crafts that he performs with excellence.

But another confrontation swings between the surface of the paintings and their deep contents. It appears in the colorful attraction of the works in one side, and the overwhelming esthetic visual attraction that it has over the expressive paradigm of the human being in his existentialist dimension, on the other side. In fact, it all springs from the perfect control of the composition game. The latter suggests the existence of criss-cross areas and sinuous horizons that appear here and there in different places and spaces: the street with its simple popular components and atmosphere; the rooms whose interior is decorated with miscellaneous patterns; the intimate objects of life's joy that echo some themes related to women presence.

Neither standing on the real ground offers people tranquility, nor does flying in the space gives them wings. Unless in a dream! The flying that we see in Chagall's dreams, the expatriate foreign artist, and his instinctive attraction by the dispersed family, the lost land and the blue open space, the same flying is also present – with no declared justifications - in Salman Al-Malik dreams. We distinguish in the artist's compositions and shapes human forms flying like birds or clouds in a poetic allegoric space. The woman appears also as a dolly made of multicolored cloth. This points out to a virtual relationship between the sky and the earth, based on the representation of the human being through his entity and his dreams. Salman Al-Malik invites his figures. But as soon as they appear in front of him, he fires on them with the color tube. The artist is naturally used to the color and the movement, as he is fascinated by the human being. His colors are sunny and bright; there is a touch of purple, yellow and green in his painting fields. There are also large white and light spots that are left for spaces of lost places.

Far from narrative and directness, the artist is able to pick his topic from few elements and motifs that he controls in its scenery frame. He moves them, and shows them the way until they show it to him. He makes them walk with paces executed by big feet and longitudinal bodies. He invites them to obscure, unexpected events inspired from the meeting of the Arab streets' events in time of crisis. When the artist narrates, he goes beyond aesthetics in order to personify concerns and worries that do not necessarily reach the limit of disaster or human tragedy.

The painting is also a window from which protract young women and adolescents busy at waiting, chatting and whispering. Women have their secrets; and time that has woven flowers and birds on their clothes has left also its imprint on the black veil that extends its darkness on a blue limpid sky. It is a momentum that signs the entrance of the characters in the painting frame or their exit to an implied distance. The topic is then transformed into a pretext to formal approaches that the artist expresses as sensorial coloring desires and as hypothesis that allows an inspiration from the real world; an inspiration from a hetero-perspective allowing a greater freedom of expression. Gradually, the topic clashes with the paddle, the power of the colored impulses, the concerns and the improvisations. The technique draws from the accumulation of layers, the sense of colors distribution, the light effects and an accurate calculation of the containment of the inner blank swinging between full and empty. There is also the intent behind the collective rendering: the style dominates quickly the elements and builds unreal bridges between the personification and the non-personification. In a word, between the presence of the real world and its absence.

In his exhibition, Salman Al-Malik continues to narrate stories and tales inspired from the popular real world and the local environment. He picks them up from a never-ending imagination, using an opulence of colors with infinite interpretations. He walks steadily towards places where we hear just the echo of his paces.


                                                                                                                                                                               Maha Soltan                                                                                                                                                                        Alhayat  newspaper - 2009