Kazem Khalil, French-Syrian artist

Born in Latakia, Syria in 1965
Lives and works in Paris, France

Kazem arrived in Paris in 2000 and began his coffee-grounds wash drawings, crafted with his hands, fingers and nails. His works feature an intricate design, which vies with the spattered coffee grounds, whose subtle shades range from deep brown to an almost yellowish ochre.

He then produced an entire series of paintings with a bold and flamboyant palette, evoking chiselled figures. The large formats facilitate unrestrained gestures, embodying a vigour and energy barely disrupted by the edge of the canvas. Using the more pronounced touch of a knife, Kazem achieves a more fluid feel, which sees a dispersion in the subject’s form. Faces have three eyes and two mouths. Is this a case of excessive movement, a deformity or a state of schizophrenia in the world? The painting seeks to convey a shattered, shaken and completely disoriented humanity.

We’re a far cry from the coffee-grounds washing drawings, which are so light but so enigmatic by virtue of evanescence. We are here in an Abyssinian reality, which only personal thought can read in its own way, according to its intimate emotions. Here, it is as if the face is withdrawn, facing completely inwards, yet still eats the entire surface, eats your eye, devours questions to deliver a message refusing to consider itself oh so dazzling and captivating.

In 2010, Kazem Khalil was awarded the Prix de la Peinture SAAF at Paris’ Grand Palais, and in 2004 won a prize in Saint-Loup for his work on paper. That same year, he won the Montmartre competition in Briollay. In 2002, at the 20th Salon de la Ménitré for art, sculpture, engraving and drawing in Angers, he was awarded the Prix de la Nouvelle Peinture (new painting prize), as well as the Prix Signature du Syndicat National des Artistes Professionnels (signature prize awarded by the national union for professional artists). And in 1999, he took out first prize at the Portraits Exhibition, at Sharjah Museum, U.A.E.

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