The influential sculptor Mona Saudi, who made mainly abstract works from stone, has died, aged 76; her death was confirmed by her gallery, Lawrie Shabibi in Dubai.
Saudi was born in Amman, Jordan in 1945, moving first to Beirut and later to Paris where she studied sculpture at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts.
In an interview with the National newspaper in 2018, she discussed why she left Jordan, saying: "This was how I planned my life. I wanted to do an exhibition and then go to Paris. Nobody supported me. I just decided to make my life by myself, so I abolished all kinds of obstacles: family, society, etc."
One of her most notable works called Géométrie de l'esprit (1987) stands outside the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris Her sculpture Mother Earth (2010), made of Jordanian marble, is in the collection of the British Museum in London and will be included in the forthcoming touring exhibition Feminine Power (dates to be confirmed). The museum also owns nine of her prints. In 2018, Poetry & Form, a survey of her works curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, opened at the Sharjah Art Museum in collaboration with the Sharjah Art Foundation.
In a film posted on YouTube by the Art Dubai fair, Saudi discusses her working methods. “Being a sculptor really is a way of life,” she said. “Because the use of time is very different from people who have different kinds of jobs. It needs long days, long months of creativity, and then you have something that is alive… I am never fed up of seeing them [her sculptures] because they are my beloved ones.”
Art Dubai says in an accompanying statement: “Always starting with basic shapes, the square, circle, cylinder, rectangle, she goes on to give them movement, a life of their own, either repeating their forms, varying their depths or heights or cutting them across one another to create new, graceful compositions.”
Many tributes have been shared on social media. Dyala Nusseibeh, the director of the Abu Dhabi Art fair, wrote on Instagram: "She was a special person and her beautiful stone sculptures, drawings and prints which often referenced poetry, especially Adonis and Mahmoud Darwish, alongside ancient civilisations and the land, will be a lasting testimony to her life." Hoor Al Qasimi shared a picture of the two of them, writing that Saudi was "a pioneer and a force of nature, a true sculptor and artist… thank you for all the beautiful forms you have carved out of stones with such brilliant tones".
William Lawrie, the co-founder of the Lawrie Shabibi gallery, posted on Instagram: “Very sad that Mona Saudi, the great Jordanian sculptor, left us tonight…we had our ups and downs, successes and disagreements, but really we shared many good times.”
Her daughter Dia Batal, who is also an artist, wrote: "With the heaviest heart, I share my beautiful Mama, sweetest grandmother and extraordinary artist Mona Saudi, has left us last night in her beloved city Beirut. Words fail me beyond this…"