Contemporary art Libya

Gaddafi’s son reveals true colours

Muammar Gaddafi's son, Saif, is also an architect, urban planner, and surrealist/symbolist painter

Saif at his Madrid show

TRIPOLI. Saif Gaddafi is the most powerful son of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who has vowed publicly to fight his father’s opponents “to the last bullet”.

What is less well known is that he is also an architect, urban planner, and surrealist/symbolist painter. Much of his art is political, and in the light of unfolding events, it has gained a new resonance.

The Art Newspaper interviewed Gaddafi when he was in London for his exhibition in 2002. The show included the work War (above, 2001) shaped, he said, by the Balkans in the late 1990s. “The painting portrayed a ship and the sea. Then a civil war broke out in Kosovo, which shattered the picture and its theme. The sea unleashed itself, anger fell from the sky, which came up against a stream of blood.”

In The Challenge, 2000, Gaddafi depicted his father as an eagle floating in the sky, confronting what he calls “neo-crusaders”, who are represented by three Christian figures on a beach. Gaddafi said a small object glued to the canvas was part of a bomb, dropped by US aircraft on his family home in Tripoli in 1986.

The show, “The Desert is Not Silent”, has toured to Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, Madrid, São Paulo and Moscow. Its website is currently down “for maintenance”.

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3 Apr 11
15:31 CET


The he should realize the regime is over in Libya. Why is he fighting against democracy for his people?

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