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Memories of Paradise Gardens - The Painter Salem Tamimi
Salem Tamimi
Born 1956, lives and works in the medina of Tripolis.


Dream Memory, 2001
Oil on canvas, 150 x 150 cm

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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.