Jordanian artist Mona Saudi – who made abstract stone sculptures – has died aged 76

Influential sculptor Mona Saudi, who mainly made abstract works in stone, has died at the age of 76; his death was confirmed by his gallery, Lawrie Shabibi in Dubai.

Saudi was born in Amman, Jordan in 1945, moving first to Beirut and then to Paris where she studied sculpture at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.

In an interview with the national diary in 2018, she opened up about why she left Jordan, saying, “That’s 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 his most remarkable works titled mind geometry (1987) in front of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris His sculpture Mother Earth (2010), in Jordanian marble, is part of the collection of the British Museum in London and will be included in the next traveling exhibition female power (dates to be confirmed). The museum also has nine of his prints. In 2018, Poetry & Form, a survey of his works organized by Hoor Al Qasimi, opened at the Sharjah Art Museum in collaboration with the Sharjah Art Foundation.

In a film shown on Youtube by the Art Dubai fair, Saudi talks about its working methods. “Being a sculptor is really a way of life,” she said. “Because the use of time is very different from people who have different types of jobs. It takes long days, long months of creativity, and then you have something that’s alive… I never get sick of it to see them [her sculptures] because they are my beloved.

Art Dubai says in an accompanying statement: “Always starting with basic shapes, the square, the circle, the cylinder, the rectangle, she continues to give them movement, a life of their own, either by repeating their shapes, varying their depths or heights or cutting on top of each other to create new graceful compositions.

Many tributes have been shared on social networks. Dyala Nusseibeh, the director of the Abu Dhabi Art Fair, wrote on Instagram: “He was a special person and his beautiful stone carvings, drawings and prints which often referred to poetry, especially Adonis and Mahmoud Darwish, alongside ancient civilizations and the earth, will be a lasting testimony to his life.” Hoor Al Qasimi shared a photo of the two of them, writing that Arabia was “a pioneer and a force of nature, a true sculptor and artist… thank you for all the beautiful shapes you have carved in stones with tones so brilliant”.

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 ups and downs, successes and disagreements , but really we shared a lot of good times.”

Her daughter Dia Batal, who is also an artist, wrote: “With the heaviest of hearts, I share my beautiful mum, sweetest grandmother and artist extraordinaire Mona Saudi, left us last night in her city beloved of Beirut. Words fail me beyond that…”

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