Sacha Abou Khalil has two strands of painting: hyperrealist portraits of individuals or families which he produces by commission, and expressionist portraits drawn from the fictive worlds of canonical novels such as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Franz Kafka’s The Trial, and Yasunari Kawabata’s The House of Sleeping Beauties. For the former, Abou Khalil maintains the necessary distance to portray a world he is observing and staging in the genre of portraiture. For the latter, he employs himself, family members, and recognizable actors for models. By turning himself and them into the protagonists, he unambiguously inscribes a personal, as well as local, relevance to these texts.
Whereas 19th century realism sought to represent a truthful and objective reality through narrative content and scenes of everyday life, hyperrealism, which emerged out of pop art, shifted the emphasis away from pictorial details to the overall effect of the gleaming surface. Relying on the density of visual information packed in a photographic image, Abou Khalil’s
Similarly, the narrative content of the selected literary texts is dissolved in Abou Khalil’s expressionist portraits. What prevails is the artist’s projection of a single fantastical moment in each of these stories. While the selection of works is disparate, Abou Khalil interprets them as existentialist reflections on youth, beauty, sexuality, death, and most potently, freedom. It is no surprise that unlike his more formal hyperrealist paintings, the protagonists are repeatedly depicted barefoot, and in the case of his son (the signifier of Abou Khalil’s own youth) is bare-chested. This series of works expresses the desire to
Sacha Abou Khalil was born in Serbia in 1964 and raised in Mount Lebanon. He received his Baccalaureate in Lebanon in 1982, and entered the Strasbourg School of Medicine in 1983. He graduated in 1990 as a state doctor in dental surgery, and until 2011 ran his own private practice in France. In 2011, he quit dentistry. He now lives between Italy and Lebanon as a self-taught painter.