Mahmoud Khaled, Shortlisted Artist, Abraaj Group Art Prize 2016
Painter on a Study Trip, 2014, Mixed media installation, Dimensions variable
The installation Painter on a Study Trip was inspired by an encounter the artist had with an eponymous 19th century oil painting by Antonio Scognamilio in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Alexandria. It triggered personal reflections on the Khaled’s own classical training as a painter at the Academy of Fine Arts in Alexandria, and its complicated relationship to the language and values of contemporary art. This work combines autobiography and research to form a contemplative and multi-faceted installation comprising photography, painting, text and installation. Khaled compiled a concise lexicon of six key terms that recur in art history books for defining artistic practice. The terms “Process”, “material”, “detail”, “source”, “exercise” and “composition” are the basis of the six components that propose formal, poetic and associative interpretations for each term. The installation is presented from the perspective of a semi-fictitious student/artist on a field trip to the Antoniades Gardens, a landmark Alexandrian garden modelled as a miniature version of the Palace of Versailles, and used as a standard location for outdoor assignments at the art academy.
Mahmoud Khaled was born in 1982 in Alexandria. He currently lives and works between Cairo and Trondheim, Norway.
In 2004 Khaled received a B.F.A in painting from Alexandria University and in 2011 to 2012 completed the inaugural year of the Home Workspace Program at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut.
His work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions in art spaces and centres in Europe and the Middle East, including AUB Gallery, Beirut; Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg; Nile Sunset Annex, Cairo (2013); Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (SMBA), Amsterdam (2011); BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK; Contemporary Image Collective, Cairo (2010); Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn and UKS, Oslo, Norway (2009). His projects have been featured in biennales such as Manifesta 8: European Biennale for Contemporary Art, Biacs 3, Seville Biennale, and 1st Canary Islands Biennale, Spain. He was awarded the Videobrasil in Context prize in 2012.
At the core of Mahmoud Khaled’s practice lies a probing engagement with the construction of male identity. In a society that is increasingly shaped by mediated and virtual exchanges, Khaled’s work traces the boundaries between what is real and what is hidden, disguised or staged. The impact of his training as an academic painter can be seen in his concern with form, which is at once extravagant and austere.
Mixing photography and video with sculptural forms, sound and text, Khaled’s subjects are often unconventional. His single channel videos and installations have portrayed a professional male belly dancer, a group of body builders, bullfighters and online communities of HIV-infected individuals. Many of his works can be regarded as formal and philosophical ruminations on the value and meaning of art as a form of political activism, an object of desire and a space for critical reflection. He is currently represented by Gypsum Gallery in Cairo.