Khaled Hafez (Egypt, b. 1963) Khaled Hafez explores the complex nature of identity and the factors that shape it through painting, photography, installation, interdisciplinary art, and video and film. With a focus on his native Egypt, Hafez traces the amalgamation of cultural elements that have surfaced over the last five decades, as the country has experienced significant socioeconomic changes, increased militarisation, and intense periods of political upheaval.
In the artist’s large-scale, mixed media paintings, for example, Egypt’s African, West Asian, Mediterranean, Arab, and Islamic lineages intersect with its Pharaonic and Judeo-Christian history in the form of overlapping signs. Between his figures and the monumental imagery that surrounds them is the flotsam of globalisation, particularly the iconography of popular culture. Often shown with the methodical movement and measured temporality of ancient friezes, his protagonists seem to make their way across the composition towards an unknown destination that exists beyond the perceivable boundaries of the canvas. At the same time, the artist emphasises a physical state of transformation and renders their bodies with pictures of body builders and advertisement cutouts that are enlarged as archival photocopies and silkscreen prints, referencing the idealised body proportions of Mediterranean mythology and the meeting of fiction with reality. This assemblage of found images signals metamorphosis while also pointing to what Hafez describes as ‘cultural recycling,’ elements of the past that resurface and inform the present. Painterly backgrounds situate his figures in limitless environments where space is undefined.
Born in 1963, Hafez trained at Cairo’s Faculty of Fine Arts in the late 1980s, and subsequently received a Master of Fine Arts degree in New Media and Digital Arts from the Transart Institute, New York and the Danube University, Krems.
Hafez has contributed to large-scale events such as the TRIO Biennial, Rio de Janeiro (2015); Venice Biennale (2015, 2013); FotoFest, Houston (2014); and the Havana Biennial (2012).
The artist’s recent exhibitions include the first Biennial of the South, Caracas, Venezuela, (2016); Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale, Malta (2015); Ayyam Gallery - 12 Alserkal Avenue, Dubai (2015); Palais De La Culture, Constantine (2015); Galerie Naimah Schutter, Berlin (2013); AB Gallery, Emmen (2013); and Meem Gallery, Dubai (2013). His video works and films have screened at the Rotterdam International Film Festival (2012); the CPH: DOX/Copenhagen Film Festival (2011); and the New Museum’s African Film Festival, New York (2010). Hafez’s works are housed in the State Museum of Art, Thessaloniki; The British Museum, London; the Saatchi Collection, London; and the Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah, among others.