Aly Ben - Copy 


Le jardin d'Eden, Circa 1940, Watercolour on paper, 56 x 70 cm



Aly Ben Salem

A Perfect World

28 February – 20 May 2023

Elmarsa Gallery, Dubai

Elmarsa Gallery is delighted to present A Perfect World, the first solo exhibition by leading Tunisian modernist Aly Ben Salem (1910-2001) at Elmarsa Gallery, Dubai, offering viewers a perspective on a pivotal moment in North African art history. Ben Salem represents the first generation of artists to emerge out of Tunisia as the struggle for independence from French rule comes to its successful conclusion. He was initially trained in the academic style of painting at local art schools during the colonial period before rejecting that formal training as part of a generational political shift to exploring more authentic representation of his native culture. Ben Salem then moves to Paris in his early career and encounters a wider range of eastern and western painting styles before developing his unique style. At first glance, Ben Salem figurative visual language, like most of his Tunisian contemporaries, presents a sharp contrast to his North African peers’ abstract style who contested the figurative and narrative vision but, upon closer scrutiny, they share an expression of a plural Maghrebi identity and something inherent to their history, memory, identity, cultural heritage, authenticity. Somehow, by incorporating the various influences he encountered in his academic training and travels abroad, Ben Salem arrives at a modern painterly practice that is universal yet recognizably North African and continues to be visible in later artists work from the late 20th century.

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Portrait of a woman with dog, 1938, Mixed media on paper, 53.5 x 76 cm
Woman with deer, circa 1970s, Gouache on paper, 27 x 22 cm
The bride, 1946, Watercolour and gouache on paper, 77 x 57 cm
Portrait of a woman, circa 1950s, Mixed media on panel, 96 x 72 cm
Paysage onirique aux femmes et animaux, circa 1950, Gouache on paper, 74 x 98 cm
Subjects with women and white horses, circa 1960s, Gouache on paper, 56 x 76 cm
Les Ondines, circa 1960, Acrylic on paper, 56.5 x 77 cm