The Art and Architecture of Saif Gaddafi

While the vicious fighting continues unabated in Libya, The Art Newspaper recalled having reported on a story related to one of the key figures in the battle for the country, Saif Gaddafi, the son and right-hand man of Muammar Gaddafi, who had recently pledged to “fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet” and warned protesters that “rivers of blood will run through Libya.” Back in 2002, Gaddafi talked with the paper about his The Desert is Not Silent, a traveling exhibition of his paintings. As you’d likely guessed, the world’s art critics were not very receiving of the dictator’s son’s work. For reference, we point to the Guardian‘s Jonathan Jones, who said, “as a painter he is not even a gifted amateur; his sentimentality is only exceeded by his technical incapacity.” We were surprised to learn also that, prior to the recent fighting in the country, Saif also ran his own architecture firm, the National Engineering Service and Supplies Company, and two years ago had gotten into urban planning, even roping in Norman Foster to help out. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find any of his architectural work online and his multi-billion dollar plan to build “the world’s largest sustainable development” seem largely like delusional hyperbole. So, in short, there’s nothing to show from either of those aspects of his career. What’s more, we can’t even send you over to his painting exhibition’s website, because it’s “down for maintenance” at the moment. However, you can get a small peek and a description of the traveling show on the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation‘s site, which of course, funded the entire thing (must not have hurt that Saif serves as its chairman).