Layered Contradictions: Khalid Al Banna

27 January - 6 March 2021

Aisha Alabbar Art Gallery is pleased to present Layered Contradictions, the first solo exhibition of the artist at the gallery. Repetition and chance are contemporary artist Khalid Al Banna’s modus operandi. Surveying his characteristic body of work in collage and fabric, Layered Contradictions reveals his approach to world building that transcends the limitations of reality. A tireless experimenter who pushes the limits of his own practice, Al Banna takes a chance on the inspiration of the moment in a meditation of form and technique that captures a tension between deep deliberation and the promise of randomness.


Al Banna looks at the principals of dimension, form and space only to subvert them. Nowhere is this irreverence more visible than in his black and white collages. In Intersection (2020), a series of abstract works on paper which he rips and re-arranges at random permutations, Al Banna probes the possibilities of color constraints and the conflict in stratified geometric shapes. While lack of color acts as material in Intersection, it’s his series of Intersection colour (2020) that allows rigor to compete with randomness. With the precision of celestial bodies orbiting in space, he cuts paper into geometric figurations and layers them into galactic swirling masses, resulting in a relentless optical illusion. In a work that has never been shown publicly, Imprints (2011), overlays paper with colored ink only to relinquish the role of fabricator in the second half of the process when Al Banna tops his composition with a second sheet of paper that he brushes over with varying degrees of pressure to let material reveal itself in a taste for the accident.


Constituting another site of innovation, Evolution (2017) is a series of mixed media and collage on paper that sees his use of fabric in a nostalgic mosaic of material. Like a lasso that ropes him back to his childhood at old souks, fabric is a charged material. He superimposes the sentimentality of time onto layers of fabrics, crystals, beads and mirrors in a biome of materiality. Likewise, in spheres of interlocking narratives, Gargour (2020-21) sees fabrics as neutralizers of opposing forces. This cluster of sculptural experimentations has steel rods wrapped in multi-hued fabrics redolent of traditional fishing nets in the UAE. The meticulous gestures of bending, morphing, tying, weaving and knotting look at what slips through the magma vis-à-vis what remains unabsorbed.


Al Banna’s compositions are layered, both in subject matter and material – he blurs the lines and softens the edges of competing forces. He builds otherworldly scenarios bursting with an energetic force that reconciles contradiction and births new meaning.