Dr. Ghazi Al Khaldi
Reflecting on Artist Khaled Al Maz
I met Khaled in Cairo, where we were roommates and students at the Faculty of Fine Arts (Beaux Arts). Ever since the beginning I felt as if he was not a chatty person but the best listener among all of us.
When a subject attracted him, he would smile and relax, and when he would disagree with any idea he would fight for what he believed was right. He wouldn’t give up easily.
When we would discuss art and someone sided with Van Gogh, Cezanne, or Gauguin, Khaled would refuse the theory of fanaticism. He would insist on the concept that schools of those three artists were completing each other. He used to say “An artist can never emerge into success if the beginning is empty.” Accordingly, art history has many incidents and stories affirming the community and complimentary, artistic tendencies, where artists have benefits that add something to history.
Surely Khaled Al Maz was one of those who learned from his predecessors, added to their achievements and then gained his own independent way of art.
I recall my discussion with Khaled about our art at our apartment in Cairo that was located at Zamalek, Bahjat Ali Street. We used to have different opinions occasionally. Another time we were conversing despite all the efforts of common friends Assaad Fidda, Abdul Razzak Arabi, and Abdul Majid Kerkoutly to interfere, and express their own opinions, everyone in their own field. The first one was a theater actor, the second one was a musician, and the third an education psychologist. Ultimately, we were arriving at one fact, affirming that there were common intersections between all fields of art, such as figurative arts or performing arts, applied arts like T.V. or cinema and musical art.
All those fields of art meet in basics and fundamental points, either in the concept of expression or in creativity. The concept of creativity includes 6 important issues:
* The first is freedom which pushes the artists to free themselves from everything visually read, heard or in learned knowledge. Examine the accumulated and stored experience. He had to create from his own method and character.
* The second issue in creativity is innovation, which is an essential condition of any creative performance and it means to exit from the past or from accumulated knowledge to a contemporary one that has a new and untraditional characteristic, this is how I define innovation.
* The third issue is intelligence. An intelligent artist thinks and knows how to quickly adapt to any environment that matches his thoughts either with nature, people or life in general.
The fourth issue is imagination which is a necessity to each artist. Imagination gives to the artistic work a legendary and metaphysical sensitivity, leaving it beyond dreams, reality, and surpassing daily life, also imagination achieves the distinction of artistic work, avoiding being a copy of reality or nature. Imagination takes art from the documentary concept to a beauty concept.
The fifth issue is the factor of surprise, astonishment and dazzle. Just as Leonardo De Vinci said, “Art is dazzling.” Dazzling comes from many factors; the most important one is that the artistic work should bear basics, different from reality or nature with a unique style and a special vision, innovated by the artist and elaborated in a personal way to be provided to the public, in order to astonish and dazzle them and let them stand in front of the artistic performance wondering: What…? How…? Why…? Where to…? Wondering is the first way of knowledge and the question here holds the meaning of surprise, which signifies queries about the reasons of this change in expressions, or forms, colors, or performances. Dazzle is the most important factor to attract the viewer of the painting at first look. This is by itself the starting pointing in respect and admiration.
Finally the sixth issue is the technicality used in the painting, as well as diversity in materials: colors, properties, balance, controversy, and complementariness, then the relationship between surface and lines, links connection volume with the perspective of structure and space: with the comparison between the two aspects: the geometric shape and space.
All these principals forming the theoretical value of creativity should be accompanied by faithfulness, love, adoration and credibility in achieving the work in all its stages.
The first moment the idea is born and transformed into contemplation, or vice versa, to represent and to echo the experience, translates it from the thinking stage to the executive stage while painting.
In this entirety where does Khaled Al Maz stand and where does his long artistic experience takes its place? Experience which covers many long, hard working years that beginning as a student and progressing to a teacher in Latakia, then to the director of the Plastic Arts Center and finally as a student in the Faculty of Beaux Arts in Cairo.
Anyone that reviews the work of Khaled Al Maz from his beginning all the way to this day can notice how the chart of his performances is directly linked to his mind, life, and personality. It reflects all his life of art through development of his intellectual, emotional, cultural, and technical maturity.
He has learned the technique of colors and developed it. He has also transformed the meaning and application of the painting’s structure. He has acquired multiple techniques, but he still found techniques for himself.
This is exactly what I meant by creativity, by going beyond everything we have learned, read, heard, or seen.
Khaled and I were walking from the flat in Bahjat Ali Street Zamalek, on the way to the faculty of Beaux Arts when he said “I love Cézanne because he did not like to address nature, or to be a prisoner of nature though it is full of beauty .”
I used to listen to his opinions regarding the great pioneers of art, such as Botticelli, Raphael, Leonardo, Michael Angelo, Testeiavo, and Gorgiano. We were finding in each one particularities adding to our experience, knowledge, and culture.
He once said to me “What do I find in the painting of Modigliani that I don’t in Rubin’s, regarding the woman’s body? The first one is calm and quiet, but the second one is reactive and you can actually feel as if it’s really moving. You just can feel the theoretical movement in the exposure of Rubens naked women from tales and stories about the man, the woman and the violence against the man when she refuses him. Where Modigliani, despite the stillness and the calmness of the lying bodies he paints, allows us to rarely detect reactive or theoretical movement. Despite all this, we can feel more excitement and femininity in his painting compared to the ones of Rubens. Why? Why is that?”
This kind of discussion was confusing to us and left us thinking about the reasons. Through the research we covered we learned a lot, and especially after we asked our teachers, Abdul Aziz Darwiash, Bikar, Mamdouh Ammar, Al Banani, and Ezz Eddin Hamoudah.
We would listen to what they said and to their opinions with a lot of interest, love, respect, and consideration. We would discuss our knowledge to express our views to each other. We never contradicted them for the simple fact of conviction; on the contrary, we were just enhancing our knowledge and our conviction in our culture. We became aware that every artist has his own style, vision, and method of expression, which should be different than others, otherwise the work isn’t unique.
Khaled started his individuality by using accumulative colors with their transparencies. He did not copy anyone or try to use someone else’s talent and experience, neither from those in his country nor from those outside his country . The real problem we were facing was what place our work had among the great sea of art’s history; a great sea of qualification, experience, and work of beauty with no limits and no horizons.
Sometimes we would think with despair and say: everything is present… they have preceded us in everything… they did not leave us with anything to do in art… schools dealt with all ideas attempts and experiences.
What shall we do?
Where are we?
What is our place in life?
Where to go? The road is closing and nothing new comes to us.
Finally through dialogue, work, wondering, and queries with colleagues, teachers, references, expectations, and antique art museums, we finally discovered something very important. We realized that each artist from any time of history has his own art, experience, and work. He or she should be distinguished and become different from all other artists. Through thousands of years of art, through a history of sculpting, pottery, architecture, Assyrian, and antique paranoid paintings, going through The Greek, The Roman, The Kept, the Islamic, Renaissance art, and many more types of schools of art, such as impressionism , abstractism, literary art, pop art and all the artistic fashion, that we read about every day as Kalder Vazarelly , Syrialism of Bosh and even Salvador Daly to Koko Shagal to the invention of Fontana; all this finally means is we don’t have to stand still with arms crossed and frowning. Even though our admiration is great and our respect is even greater, and our craziness is continuous, that definitely does not mean we should do nothing.
We should stop and go back to our own history, traditions, and civilization to a deeply rooted area in our mind and to knowledge of our life.
So, Khaled started going back to his own world slowly; to his own imaginary home; to his thinking spot. He painted women like a dream dancing between transparent colors to his tradition and civilization, to his alphabetical of Augarit to the inner world which is inhabited by the human beauty . He painted the woman as a dream ,dancing.
This world of Khaled Al Maz is magical and full of love and life. He paints a woman to make us love her and see her as a candle that burns to look more beautiful, and more elegant, especially when he puts her among the transparent colors with her splendid body, unrepeated dancing movement, unparalleled and unfamiliar, together in complete harmony. The light has been sent through their bodies once, and another time been replaced by colors, as if he is compensating and anatomizing the details of the woman‘s body with a special poetic and romantic touch . Khaled acts in a way not to draw the details and the particular parts that we have seen in other artists in drawing the naked women, so we see that he neglects lots of details to put the general beauties turning women’s bodies into pieces of antiques or sculptures in his portrayals that has its special diameters, special shapes, that he insists on exaggerating sometimes and prolonging, as if he wants to tell us: “This is the body I love, the colors I choose, the subject I present, and the sense of beauty I believe in.”
Dr. Ghazi Al Khaldi