Abdallah Khaled’s Paths of Light shine in London

Exhibition Curator Maria Luisa Trevisan notes that Khaled deep­ens his study of light by using colours and materials rather than placing emphasis on drawing.

'Figures on a journey towards the light', a painting by Abdallah Khaled.


2016/11/27 Issue: 83 Page: 23


The Arab Weekly
Karen Dabrowska



London - The 21 acrylic and oil paintings in the solo ex­hibition Paths of Light of Algerian-Berber artist Abdallah Khaled invite visitors to take a spiritual journey with mythical characters as their guide to colourful, magical land­scapes.

London’s Arab British Centre has displayed the varied works in its small first floor gallery and on the stairs leading to it. Brown, red and blue are the dominant colours. People and animals are fused to­gether to create mysterious im­ages that stretch to infinity with no clear beginning or end. What do these images represent? The inter­pretation is left to the viewer.

“There is always a message in art – it has to transmit something. Without a message it just deco­rates the walls,” Khaled said.

The light referred to in the title of the exhibition is not just an ex­ternal light.

“It is an internal light – the light of the self,” Khaled said. “Light is a metaphor. It is not only to be able to see but also to be able to search for the greater good that everyone should be capable of bringing from themselves. The colours I use are symbols of peace… Art is a way of educating the public, to make them more open and more sensi­tive towards different cultures, different peoples and different means of expression.

“For me, art is like a light house on the shore that is illuminating the way for the ship that arrives. My art is something to focus your mind, stimulate your intellect and touch your soul. Without light there is no meaning, there is no en­ergy, there is nothing.”

Although Khaled’s words and art works may have religious over­tones, he insists that he is a lay person who does not follow all the dictates of Islam. He believes in God and the values that his cul­ture’s traditions give him.

His Berber identity comes through in his work. He empha­sised that it would not make sense for him to come to Europe, to live in Europe and to paint in exactly the same way as European paint­ers. That is why he has brought his own cultural heritage with him and that is what comes through in his work. It is a way of expressing himself and contributing some­thing to humanity.

In a blue acrylic on wood paint­ing, a sombre figure with a criti­cal expression on its face looks at other strange figures searching for meaning and wanting to make sense of the world. Most of the fig­ures in Khaled’s paintings stand with outstretched hands. They ap­pear to be searching and rejoicing in their journey towards the light.

Composizione 3, one of the larg­est works in the exhibition (120cm x 100cm), is the most colourful creation with paths represented by twisted lines. Burred, mysterious images combine with triangular and square shapes.

Exhibition Curator Maria Luisa Trevisan notes that Khaled deep­ens his study of light by using colours and materials rather than placing emphasis on drawing.

“Amidst the chromatic clots, brushstrokes, marks, scratching and colours that range from orange and red-yellows to greens, blues and violet-blues, one denotes dancing and moving figures remi­niscent of cave paintings on North Africa’s rocky landscapes. Khaled’s paintings illustrate a strong con­nection to his ancestral land and his Berber origins with its people, traditions and culture,” Trevisan said.

She underlined that the artist’s works amounted to “a declaration of peace and freedom, respect for one another, for diversity, thus ex­pressing universal values and en­riching all of humanity”.

“In view of the current difficult times we live in, Khaled’s message is an invitation to take positive ac­tion in search of the common glob­al good. His paintings incorporate ancestral symbols such as the cow, the bull, the bison, the horse, war­riors, women, spears, clubs, forks, mud huts and the walls of ancient cities,” Trevisan said.

“He depicts the rich and varied indigenous cultures of North Af­rica, the flavours of his homeland, the scent of the desert, the colours of the Atlas Mountains, as well as the instinctive abstract expres­sionist and graffitist mark of con­temporary ‘Western’ artistic cul­ture,” she added.

Khaled’s complexity as an artist can be understood by looking at his cultural diversity and the merg­ing of the artistic influences of both Algeria and Italy where he now lives. He has refined his cultural and artistic knowledge through his travels and periods of study across Europe. His numerous personal and group exhibitions, in Italy, Norway, Canada, the United States and UK have received positive and enthusiastic reactions from both the public and critics alike.

His paintings are to be found in the National Museum of Fine Arts of Algeria and in numerous private collections in Canada, the United States, Japan, Finland, Norway, France, Germany, Austria and Italy.


Karen Dabrowska is an Arab Weekly contributor in London.


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