“Kemit” is the third exhibition of paintings by rising artist Ibrahim Khattab, currently showing at the Safarkhangallery.
Khattab’s main interest is combining painting, video art and installation. He started his career at the age of 12 as a billboard painter in the streets, and later developed a passion for Arabic calligraphy which has remained a significant element in his work.
Kemitwas the Pharaonic name for Egypt, meaning the black land, referring to the fertile soil on the Nile banks, the lifeblood of Egypt since time immemorial. Khattab’s inspiration for his latest efforts are steeped in an innate fascination and appreciation of the message of the ancients, and “Kemit” is his personal quest to remind us of the significance of the their teachings, expression and memory in the modern age.
The works bear his trademark canvas treatment involving an over ten-stage layering process using old newspapers, street posters and discarded publications. This technique involves a skillful element of speed for the chemical reactions he employs to create the psychedelic visual effects of his backgrounds. Khattab intentionally leaves evidence of these layers on the sides of his canvases, which are also identifiable in places within the paintings on closer inspection, in order to highlight the conversation between past and present.
The exhibition is on until 19 November.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 14 November, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.