Q&A With Khalid Alkaaby
Represented artist Khalid Alkaaby (pronounced CAL-id al-CAW-bee) touches on the messages hidden within his all-abstract exhibition “The Path of Light” and revisits the progression of his artistic practice from Iraq to the US. He also shares his aspirations for future travel to enhance his body of work.
Regarding his initial influences for the show, Alkaaby recounted that many works were painted during the height of the pandemic, and hopes for viewers to relate to the spectrum of emotions represented here in his collection of nearly 80 paintings.
Sparks: What are your thoughts on creating figurative versus abstract pieces? Why those two particular styles?
Alkaaby: Figurative art is a study and composition of the sitter. Her energy is transformed through the lens of the artist and presented to the viewer. Abstract is a moment in time of the artist’s energy, feeling and influences. It is a meditation, with raw emotion translated into shapes and colors.
Sparks: You provided a quote to explain the theme of this show—“Finding oneself in the darkness is unsettling. Feelings of fear, loneliness and uncertainty. However, even the smallest glimmer of light in the darkness can bring comfort and hope”— what, if anything, are you hoping for viewers to gather from this exhibition?
Alkaaby: I am hoping for the viewer to connect to those emotions. There is that message of hope and beauty coming out of the darkness, and a refocusing on connection in our everyday lives with people and the world around us. It is time to realign to what we find beautiful and celebrate life and those around us.
Sparks: Do you have any specific symbolism in color or form you could clue us in on? What is your connection between color and emotion?
Alkaaby: Gray is used throughout this collection. It is used as a base, or starting point for construction of each piece. The colors are then added to symbolize the emotions and to entice the viewer to come along on a journey of discovery. The viewer will bring their life experience and emotions about each piece, which will result in a collaboration of sorts between the canvas, the viewer and the artist.
Sparks: How has your environment impacted your artistic creation? For example, in the states versus Iraq?
Alkaaby: A new environment changes perspective and adds new flavor to the art. Here in the states being exposed to many new cultures has changed my perspective on color and the use of color in my work. A sense of freedom to express myself as an artist has added a level of happiness that was not found in my work from Iraq.
Sparks: What do you see for yourself in the future for your work, in regards to investigating new styles, mediums, etc?
Alkaaby: I was classically trained, so I will continue to work in oil on canvas following in the footsteps of the masters. However, I look forward to my trip to Paris this Fall for inspiration for my next collection; Paris has been the go-to destination for artists for hundreds of years and I am excited to base my next show around my travels.
Sparks: Any words of wisdom for younger artists?
Alkaaby: Practice is the key to mastering your craft. Interning with a master artist will provide you with tips and tricks—secrets to the trade that you will not gain from the classroom, but which are handed down generation to generation by the most skilled painters. Challenge yourself to work outside of the norms and remember to always have fun. Believe that every piece of art that you create will find its way into the heart of the viewer.