01 Painting, Middle East Artists, THE ART OF WAR, Louay Kayyali’s Untitled, with Footnotes #93

Henry Zaidan
2 min readMar 4, 2024
Louay Kayyali’s Untitled, c. 1952
signed and dated in Arabic (lower right)

oil on canvas
17¾ x 24in. (45 x 61cm.)
Private collection

Sold for USD 161,000 in Oct 2014

1952 marks the year during which the present untitled battle scene was depicted as well as the first public appearance of Kayyali’s work, an event that took place in his secondary school in Aleppo, the Madrasset Al Tajhiz Al Oula- Al Ma’moun Secondary School. Prior to that, Kayyali’s art was only known to his family and friends, for whom he had painted many portraits and commissioned works.

This early work shows a conflicted, young Arab nationalist fighting for his country. By depicting this dynamic and expressive image of the soldiers in the midst of action, Kayyali places himself amongst his fellow citizens in the battle field. By doing so, the artist brings his patriotism and involvement in the conflict to the foreground, an involvement that was rather psychological than physical. Kayyali thus embraces his role as a war artist, but finds inspiration in the historical facts as well as his own imagination, distinguishing himself from the artistically gifted soldiers who were deployed on the battle fields to depict and document the military in action. More on this painting

Louay Kayali (1934–1978) was a Syrian modern artist. He was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1934 and studied art in the Accademia di Belle Arti after having studied at the Al-Tajhiz School where his work was first exhibited in 1952. He met Syrian artist Wahbi Al-Hariri there and the two would share a friendship for the rest of Kayali’s life. Al-Hariri would become his mentor as he was for artist Fateh Moudarres (Below) that Hariri introduced to Kayali in 1955. Moudarress and Kayali would together represent Syrian modern art at the Venice Biennial Fair. He suffered from depression and died in 1978 from burns incurred from his bed catching fire, reportedly from a cigarette. More on Louay Kayali

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Henry Zaidan

In my Blog is an Online collection of significant paintings from the 1st century to today; complete with art-history and artist bibliographies.