Preview: 7 & 8 April 2022
The Third Line is pleased to announce its participation at 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair at Christie's Paris with a solo presentation of new works by Anuar Khalifi. Khalifi creates richly detailed and vibrant paintings that examine identity through the blending of real and imaginary worlds.
Based between Spain and Morocco, Khalifi is a self-taught artist who spent much of his childhood drawing, a pastime that informs his practice today particularly in his use of colour and arrangement of characters. Mixing fact and fiction to confront stereotypes, his paintings are at times ironic and humorous, evoking a childlike naivety as the artist dismantles the canon of orientalism.
Khalifi's paintings reimagine traditional notions of portraiture by confronting society's categorisation of a protagonist and an antagonist; we are protagonists of our own stories, but we play the antagonist in other people's lives. Born out of the artist's mind, the characters in these new paintings personify this juxtaposition and contest the cultural narratives at play. When society deems one more superior than another, secondary characters are created. Khalifi unapologetically reclaims these secondary characters and through his paintings he shines light on the cultural antagonists. They take centre stage in Khalifi's works, and their role is not subjugated to the world of others and they are proud representatives of their traditions and history.
In Musk Carnation (2021), the calm and defiant character is depicted in an intimate setting applying perfume, symbolising acceptance of who they are. The perfume is created using ingredients from around the world, but when applied to one’s skin the scent becomes uniquely theirs; they are in the world but not belonging to it. This duality is reinforced by the very nature of the perfume itself, representing a union of scents that transform our state and bridge different realities.
The significance of scent on one's identity is further explored in Smellfie (2021), which is a self-portrait of the artist himself. This painting is an exercise of the artist affirming his own identity, and is an answer to current and past discourses which have imposed an identity onto him. The intimate portrait shows Khalifi smelling himself, and underpins the notion that identity should emerge from within and should not be imposed by cultural narratives.