Born 1956, lives and works in the medina of Tripolis.
Dream Memory, 2001
Oil on canvas, 150 x 150 cm
Salm Tamimi was born in Tripolis in 1956. As artist he’s working in a
studio slightly bigger than a European children’s room, in the shade of
Roman art (next to the Arc of Marc Aurel) and in resistance to ethnic art
which includes nothing the people could refer to. To make art in Libya
today is a particular challenge, an attempt to overcome a tradition that,
for the most part, is popular or classical as well as an experiment to
make contact with international tendencies with quite stylistic devices
of one’s own.
Tamimi is exemplary for the situation of artists in Libya.
Tamimi’s is an informal style. Simplified signs and often symbolically and signal-like
applied colors come together in a unity that suggests that the artist has an
excellent overall view of the international scene. The way Tamimi produces traces
in his pictures it’s not at all out of place to make comparisons with Cy Twombly.
Tamimi often sells his works to passing tourists.
Circumstances add to the fact that Tamimi has to make do with small or at the
least middle formats. There should be the impression of narrowness on his pictures,
did the artist not succeed, at the same time, to produce an impression of spaciousness.
What sometimes looks like a rubbing-off of an outside wall can make one think,
through the colors’ density, of luxuriant vegetation, of gardens that, in a country
like Libya, can only be compared with the idea of gardens of paradise.
After visiting Tamimi in his studio, Jörg Mollet and I saw the graffiti on the
walls of houses in the streets of the medina in a different way. There are as
few figurative representations, there, as in the work of Tamimi. Therefore, one
finds, in his work all the more signs, signals, traces, always in a complementary
connection with an accentuating coloring so that one feels tempted to think of
Islamic art, in any case of its roots, though in a unperturbed free form and
interpretation and in an individual language.