Assaad Arabi

Khaled Al Maz and the Expressionism of the Sixties.
Romantic Rhythm in Lines, Colors, and the Deviation.

The experience of Khaled Al Maz is located in the Syrian expressionism field. It was growing, (especially during the union period), between the two homes of plastic arts. Khaled was born January 1st, 1938 in Latakia. It confirms his association with the constellation of the expressionists of the generation who studied in The Fine Arts College of Cairo. He was awarded a scholarship to the College of Art in Cairo- Faculty of Painting – between 1959 and 1964. It was a College then, but it was transformed into the faculty affiliated to the Syrian University.

As others from the same generation, Khaled embraced the Egyptian metaphysical tendency, which was in the middle of the century formed with myths and legends full of lines and colors, such as Abdel Hadi Al Jazzar and Hamed Nadda.

We can’t say anything at all about Khaled Al Maz’s experience without getting close to those artists.

The eldest were Zayyat and Al Khalid (1935) and among them Nabaa, Karoutly and Bahra (1938). After that come Zoubi and Al Sibai (1939) in the faculty. Al Maz, Nabaa, and Al Sibai were nominated at close intervals. Al Zoubi, Bahra, and Assani continued their studies declaring their support for the new born faculty in Damascus. Karkoutly was in retirement age when he taught in the sculpture section with Ghiyath Al Akras.Before he settled in Germany, his immigration country. We have to realize that the Egyptian tendency in plastic art goes back beyond those expressionists of the sixtieth. We can recall what two pioneers Nazem Al Jaafari (born in 1918 and Nassir Shora (1920) have brought to the educational field, inspired by principals of their common teacher Youssef Kamel (born 1891 who was the foundation for the impressionism of the renaissance in Egypt at the beginning of the century), taking into consideration that the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo was established in 1908. Those two pioneers graduated in the same year, 1947, holding the local impressionism tendency of attracting light geographical properties as taught by their teacher.

The effect of Al Jaafari was greater in this domain because he taught many of the afore mentioned expressionists of the sixties, either in Jr. High school or in the Arts center affiliated to the Ministry of Culture. Among them were: Zayyat, Nabaa, Arabi, Dahdouh, Abou Kalam,and others .We also have to stress here the impact of his brushed colors and pastes on the premature expressionist’s vision.

Later on the local expressionism was freed from Egyptian expressional sensitivity, especially because it was in the hands of Fateh Al Moudaress (born 1922), Hammad, Adham (1932), Naim (1930), and then Sabbagh, Kayyalli, Alwani, and Hatmal(Marwan from far) (all born in 1934). The majority of them studied in Rome and some led him to leave the educational corps forever.

The association of the ten in the 70’s, enhanced the Egyptian expressional sensitivity and especially through the more influencing times among them; Zayyat, Nabaa, Zoubi, and Sibai, although the experiences of Khaled Al Maz are considered close to them. There is no explanation to his adherence to this association.

If we get closer in our analysis to this associational experience and the fluctuation in their links with the Egyptians’ place of learning we are then aware of the fact that it’s wrong to make an absolute reference to those sources. Karkoutly was always haunted by damascene traditional art, such as the drawings of Abou Soubhi Al Tinawi and the knighthoods of the shadow theatre. Talking about Zayyat, he did not deny the influence of Ghaleb Ayyad and Tahiyah Halim in a lesser degree in spite of his previous study in Bulgaria. This impressionability regressed when he returned and was absorbed by the traditions of the icons (a local Surianian). In parallel to that, Al Zoubi plunged into the Islamic epic, and Nazir Nabaa gradually got rid of the legendary astonishments and the hallucinations of Al Jazzar, to enter into a more distinguished metaphysic, and before his final orientation of the sensitivity of the Alexandria School, and the doctrines of Hamed Ouweis supporting the popular labor forces. Methods of Bahrah and Al Khaldi went further down in speeches and political engagement in the manner of the socialist realism, but this general escape did not cut down the sensation of the Egyptian tradition of plastic arts, which has continued until now with Bassem Dahdouh (born in 1964) and Laylah Nazzir (1941).

Turning to the experience of Khaled Al Maz does not represent any digression as it will lead us to his distinguished strength and honesty in protecting the expressionist in Egyptian tradition, which reaches Al Karnak whose enthusiasm surpassed Nazir Nabaa himself even though he was spending his time between his first atelier in Damascus and his second in Cairo (the second city of his wife, the artist Shalabiah.)

Maybe one of the most important characteristics of his experience is the fanaticism and the determination in the imitation of the traditions of the Pharaohs in their sculptures and images. Here we discover his unrevealed sculptural talent, obvious only on the occasions of his designs for monuments and edifices in public squares. Some of the critics see that this activity made him not fully committed in his painting and more focused on his sculpting. They would say especially so in the 90’s. He took on the responsibility of administrative matters in the faculty (deanery). There is no doubt that this period witnessed his temporary static stylistic, but soon afterwards we saw his talents bursting out evidenced in the last two years when he dedicated himself to his paintings after facing his administrative responsibilities.

If expressionism became joined with Syrian expressionism, not imagining him without it, then his madness could be failing in the partnership of its novelty or beyond novelty, which took the appellation of recent expressionism. His contemplating, calm, and quiet characters cannot bear such conversations. He always prefers to perform slowly, and this has nothing to do with being hesitant, or his incapability to destroy, as some would like to say.

His constructive style only knows how to build and does not understand the meaning of destruction. He is close to building pyramids, heading slowly but surely in performance, taking a long time. His paintings appear far from the blazes and risks of the expressionist’s painting seen in some of the above mentioned artists, such as Zayyat and Arabi.

His performance rhythm is to the pantomime, where the body movement seems like a kind of engineering linked to the Pharaoh’s style. Even inside his popular bathrooms, we detect a kind of celebration and intimacy in close relations. Their creatures seem rational, idyllic, platonic, moving with studied steps, respecting the mechanism of isolation and retirement on their sculptural mass. He still protects, with nostalgia and moral fidelity, the instructions of his teachers, such as Abdul Aziz Darwish, especially Ezz Edinn Hamoudah. The painting representing his daughter (Rana) wandering in front of a piano, moves between the sensitivity and the variation of the gray color, which reminds us of Hamoudah and his skills in that field.(120×120 oil painting in 1990)

He tries to create a purged womb of a utopian Mihrab helping him to get rid of the sins and the materialism in the lower world, and the space turns into a joyful spring, musical space with heavenly colors and rhythms.

His naked creatures move in the popular bathrooms up and down inside a trip concept dealing with a world and space in the basis of paper, a wall, or a mirror. The anatomy of the woman and the creature seems well coordinated and he does not bear any surprises or a less degree of legitimate sins in the lines and colors. The orange sun color sneaks as a heavy mass into the variations of the color of blue like cobalt turquoise, indigo, and azurite. Its coldness dances between agate and emerald.

He starts his paintings by forming two female bodies, as if they were rational twins, or even one entity in front of the mirror, a kind of a soliloquy, and hiding the sensitive fertility. The number of his female creatures increased, the numbers were transformed to a spot of colors, wild and intimate, resembling the pastel colors without mixing of mediator or even half nuances, which protect the beauty of the colors and their maximum brightness.

Sharp colors are present in the courtyard, mixing with the space. They deal with the structure of the body as if it is a plastic unit inserted into a note in the space, aiming at all moments to fill his space with the body, like Ghassan Al Sibai and Hamed Ouaiss. He uses colors now in the abstract way after using it like a solid sculptural structure in edifices and monuments.

There is no doubt that his colors and lines do not resemble in their romance any of his companions, except to a certain extent the deceased Louai Kayali, who reached in his romance to the world of doubled suffering.

Criticism cannot outstrip the position of this contemplating artist in his light permanent constructions. He always stood faithful to the Pharaoh tendency, to the pantomimes, and profiles. Pantomimes and nod movements are not meant for speech, but seem closer to worship traditions and transparent romances. I recall the book of Tarek Al Sharif, was included in the experience of Khaled Al Maz among the 20 most prominent artists in the Syrian ateliers, in 1973. The author discovered the romantic music in which basis Al Maz paves the people. He mentioned the importance of surfaces watching a mural wrinkled painting, where the geology of its top seems to be suffering from the erosion and degeneration of time.

There is no doubt that today he has replaced his sculptured surface by another one full of heavy paint colors.

Khaled Al Maz represents an obvious and original tunnel linking the memory of the Egyptian plastic with the expressionism characteristics of the sixties, which were dominating the Syrian ateliers. Al Maz stayed independent from the trendy chess structure full of perpendicular lines.

Al Maz represents the contradiction to the tendency of Descartes symbolized by Fateh Al Mauderess and his incoherent excitement. The same thing applies to the difference at a moral level of his personality and the quietness of his character, his colors, lines, and the perfection of the strokes of his brushes.

Assaad Arabi
He is a plastic artist; a researcher in Arabian Beauty Art. Settled in Paris since 1976