Omar El Lahib at Saatchi Yates 26 January – 15 March 2023 Saatchi Yates 14 Bury Street St James’s London SW1Y 6AL
Saatchi Yates is delighted to unveil its brand new 10,000 sqft gallery space at the heart of St James with a solo exhibition of new paintings by Lebanese artist Omar El Lahib who lives and works in Cologne.
The Bury Street gallery will offer a large ground floor lateral exhibition space dedicated to showcasing breakthrough artists and dramatic private rooms for secondary market presentations. Since opening in 2020, Saatchi Yateshas gained a strong reputation for its successful solo exhibitions of international artists in the London gallery, as well as shows in France, Italy and the United States. The gallery intends to continue its core focus of hosting large scale exhibitions of radically innovative artists in the new St James space.
Bringing together over 18 large-scale paintings, El Lahib’s solo exhibition sets itself in the nocturnal world – where darkness reigns, the mysterious takes shape, and where the unconscious is at liberty to make itself heard. El Lahib was born in Sidon, Lebanon in 1986 and studied Fine Art at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf before moving to Cologne with his wife and children.
Dr Larissa Kikols comments: “El Lahib’s work oscillates between figuration and abstraction. Using lights and colours in a more targeted and subjective way, moods, figures, and sceneries are arranged as if in a dream. Often depicted by El Lahib is the same woman with long hair, captured almost in an exact same pose – slightly crooked, slightly bent forward, arms mostly hanging down.”
“It is often wrongly assumed that the night and its darkness swallows much of a place. In fact, the opposite is true of the night – it can expose much larger distances, including those of a star. It is only through a star that distances and dimensions can be perceived in space. The night therefore doesn’t diminish or limit things, it instead magnifies moments and renders them more intense.” says El Lahib.
“In El Lahib’s nights, his figures are thrown back onto themselves. They feel, think, and hold their own with no initial sense of direction. The task of not losing yourself, but being completely at one with yourself, further intensifies the moment. There are also encounters, namely between the figures in these paintings and the observer. Some seek our gaze whilst others don’t. They stand in the way with their bodies, they challenge us or invite us, they draw us into the painting, or rather, into the night.” Dr Larissa Kikol.
Speaking of the move to St James and El Lahib Solo Show, Saatchi Yates Founders Phoebe Saatchi Yates and Arthur Yates said: “St James has always been our dream home, a brilliantly British destination for both the history and future of art in London. Our new gallery allows us to put on ambitious public shows for our artists and in our secret hallowed galleries, present some spectacular private sales.
Omar’s paintings immediately hypnotised us with their mysterious and unsettling power. We were confident he was the perfect artist to launch our new initiative in St James. Intermingling Lebanese landscapes with Germanic intensity.”
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