Kirsten Scheid and Jessica Winegar introduce the work of Louay Kayyali, a Syrian artist whose work was well-known in Syria during his life-time but was little known beyond Syria, perhaps due to his socialist commitment and lyrical figurative style. His posthumous entry to the auction market has not been accompanied by awareness of his goals in using modernism. This exhibition provides translations of Louay’s own reflections on his work as well as paintings representing the array of his formal interests and approaches.
Louay Kayyali was born in Aleppo in 1934. From 1956 to 1961, he studied decoration at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. Afterwards he joined the faculty at the Higher Institute for the Fine Arts in Damascus in 1962 with the honor of having been Syria’s representative to the Venice Biennale in 1960 (with Fateh al-Mudaress). Although his teaching and productivity was limited to the brief period of 1962-1976, his impact on the younger generation of Syrians, not only artists but the wider “laboring masses,” spread through traveling exhibitions, lectures, museum acquisitions, teaching in public institutions. He died tragically in a fire in his home in 1978.