Internationally noted Egyptian artist Khaled Hafez’s first solo exhibition in Berlin is embodied through a kaleidoscope of paintings, drawings and videos, faceting the everyday life and times of the artist’s world.
Although Hafez is perhaps best known for his video work, the true strength of this show lies in his middle-format paintings. The dream-like ‘segments’ work like film stills from Hafez’s soul, reflecting on a lifetime influenced by military confrontations and socio-economic consequences, to which we can all relate. At the same time, they play with our Western, preconceived notions about the Middle East.
A prime example of this can be witnessed in the painting “Dakar Running”, situated at the heart of the gallery space, and acting as the show’s nucleus. The tension at play between the painterly qualities and the imagery hits the viewer at home, embodying something that is culturally both very relatable and totally foreign. Three strong elements are incorporated to synthesise an extremely cool level of style and grace. Originated in the background, block colours expand out into the painting, acting as pedestals for the metaphysical questionings the iconography presents. He energises the works through an elemental implementation of strong, intuitive brush strokes. Hyper-exercised magazine images of Caucasian figures reflect on a sort of ridiculousness of Western world domination through global consumerism and pop culture aesthetic, steadfastly carrying on to dwell a bit on what the ‘oriental’ Egyptian of the past has become today. The painted manipulation sarcastically hails our world’s new god of surface quality, while the ‘oriental’ elements remain undeniable, dancing through the rectangular space, using a modernised form of hieroglyphics to rebirth Egyptian deities into the status quo of our contemporary world.
Khaled Hafez – Berlin Chromosome, Sep 7-Oct 19 | Galerie Naimah Schütter