Aly Ben Salem, Untitled No.2, 1968, Work on Paper, 54x 74cm
Courtesy of Le Violon Bleu
Le Violon Bleu opened in 2004 at the initiative of Mrs Essia Hamdi, a French literature teacher with a passion for arts, who opened a first gallery of antiques and oriental paintings in the 90’s. Today, Le Violon Bleu focuses on internationally renowned artists with proven talent and track record, and is located in the prestigious blue and white village of Sidi-Bou-Said, with exceptional views of Carthage and the Mediterranean Sea.
Rafik El Kamel
Aly Ben Salem
A central figure of L’École de Tunis, a movement which emerged in 1963, Aly Ben Salem (1910-2001) pioneered the Tunisian art movement at a critical moment following independence from colonial France. He is considered a major figure in establishing an approach and aesthetic unique to the Tunisian identity, opposing the orientalist styles which were fashionable at the time.
His early works were heavily influenced by traditional Islamic methods and the heritage of Tunisia is demonstrated by incorporating elements such as costumes, folkloric gadgets and scenes of daily life in Tunisia, gathered by the artist through his travels around the country. Ben Salem carefully studied artisanal methods including weaving, glass blowing and jewellery making, which were incorporated into his compositions, emphasising the importance of craft making through the details presented in his paintings.
During the 1930s and 1940s, he exhibited internationally in cities as Paris and Stockholm, he met many important figures through his tours, Pablo Picasso, George Braque and Salvador Dali. His exposure to experimentations occurring throughout the European art scene encouraged him to investigate colour, you see that his paintings are occupied with such prominent pigments that also reflect the textures and shades of the rich Tunisian landscapes. The paintings on display at Art Dubai 2021, Modern, particularly depict this through their play with colour and figure.