Born in 1952 in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Rashid Al Khalifa held his first solo exhibition at the Dilmun Hotel, Bahrain, in 1970 when he was just 18 years old, and then moved to the UK in 1972 to study at the Hastings College of Arts and Technology in Sussex. After returning to Bahrain in 1978, inspired by Europe’s greatest Impressionist masters, he began his own renditions of his country’s landscapes, producing a series of atmospheric paintings of the desert, sea, and historical sites. These works were first presented at the Middle East Institute, Washington, D.C., USA, and at the Sheraton Hotel, Bahrain, in 1982. Rashid developed his painting by responding to certain movements and styles such as geometric abstraction, hard-edge painting and colour field work.

The artist’s vital decision to merge elements of his figurative and landscape works in the late 1980s was an entirely conscious one. He was driven by a greater sense of individuality, which emulated the ambiance and aura of his own surroundings. His female figures became barely decipherable, as hints of fabric, suggestions of limbs and movement, and cascades of hair all dispersed into the melding colours of the land. Rashid’s further transformation of his work in the early 1990s denotes his desire to contain and redirect his previously gestural and fleeting. mark making. Gradually becoming more controlled, his imagery began incorporating more decorative elements. This series of works were first presented in 1996 in solo exhibitions at the De Caliet Gallery in Milan, Italy, and the El Kato Kayyel Gallery, Milan, Italy, as well as at the Shuman Arts Organisation in Jordan in 1997. During this time, Rashid also experimented with a shapelier backdrop, forming a triangular prism with three canvases. And while he appreciated its three-dimensionality, which allowed the work to stand unsupported so viewers could look from all angles, he was unsatisfied with the result.

Further investigations and an unintentional discovery resulted in his characteristically ‘convex canvas’ which emerged towards the end of the 1990s. Beginning in 2000, this new canvas became the mainstay on which the artist merged all his imagery – landscape, figurative and abstract expressionism – into his own colour field language. From 2006 onwards, along with his continued application of bright and vivid colour schemes, his practice adopted a conceptual framework. Organic shapes and unusual patterns swirled together, allowing for the emergence of animate and abstract imagery.

By 2009, his work underwent a definitive change, where the formerly bold lines and distinct forms of the late ‘90s became a synthesis of colour and gesture. Broad sweeps of colour met with blended paint and thick impasto which was then scratched and scraped to reveal the remnant hues and imagery beneath the surface. Employing the convex surface for over a decade, Rashid methodically and continually developed his style with a far more minimalistic approach. In 2010, an important solo exhibition at the Bahrain National Museum entitled ‘Convex: A New Perspective’, showcased a decade of his work, presenting his journey with this newfound form and its influential role on his style and practice. Along with his earlier painterly works, he introduced a new series of lacquer paint, fabric and glue complementing the curvature of the canvas. Rashid manipulated these materials to open up opportunities for light to fall differently on each surface, thereby emphasizing his multilayered relief technique. The scale of his canvas became grander and the imagery itself darker and more intense in nature, imparting far greater dramatic effects. In essence, this new perspective intimated changes in the physicality of Rashid’s work and ran parallel to his personal growth. His ongoing experimentation signified his need and openness for innovation and renewal.

In this phase, Rashid began to consider and equate, to an even greater extent, the susceptibility, mechanics and geometric processes involved in certain aspects of the designs and architecture he visualized in Bahrain’s ever-changing landscapes. He quickly began to incorporate these findings into his practice. The incandescent, smooth lacquer surfaces seen in much of his 2010-2011 work demonstrates his affinity for symmetry and balance in form and purpose. By late 2011, Rashid took this further by experimenting with chrome which allowed him to paint over, manipulate and warp reflections of his environment. This body of work was showcased in solo exhibitions the following year at the Bahrain Financial Harbour, Manama (2012), Beirut Art Fair, Lebanon (2012) and Abu Dhabi Art, UAE (2012).

In May 2015 the artist officially participated in the 56th Venice Biennale, Eye of the Thunderstorm: Effervescent Practices from the Arab World’, in both the ‘Nomi/Names’ joint exhibition and a collateral event, ‘The commissioned by the Contemporary Practices Journal. This was followed with his participation in an Arab delegation of artists to Brazil for the TRIO Biennial dedicated to three-dimensional art. Around this time Rashid’s convex surfaces took on textured layers of aluminium, which he manipulated or excised to reveal layering underneath. In
doing so, he abandoned the painterly style of previous years to allow for a pristine and symmetrical façade. These structural features, as well as his move towards minimalism, directed his new focus on elemental forms of design and their receptiveness to light and consequent shadows.

In 2018, the artist presented a solo show at Ayyam Gallery in Dubai, UAE, entitled ‘Hybrids’, which showcased this transition with a selection of works created between 2015-2017. In the same year, this fresh and innovative approach defined his ‘Parametrics’ series of large-scale installations that premiered, to international acclaim, in a major solo exhibition entitled ‘Penumbra: Textured Shadow, Coloured Light’ at the Saatchi Gallery in London. In continuation of this style, in 2019, Rashid exhibited alongside artist Mary Bauermeister and sound artist Simon Stockhausen at the me Collector’s Room, Berlin presenting a selection of his parametrics. In 2020, Rizzoli publishing house, released an elegantly illustrated publication of Rashid Al Khalifa’s work, entitled, ‘Rashid Al Khalifa, Full Circle’, showcasing the artists deep connection to the light and landscape of his homeland. Rashid has since participated in a number of international art fairs as well as two solo exhibitions (‘Spectrum’ and ‘Cusp’) at the Liechtenstein LandesMuseum in 2022.

Rashid Al Khalifa’s latest work continues to explore the myriad dynamics of light and colours that are characteristic to Bahrain’s geographical and cultural diversity. His current interests lie in the interaction of these properties to further inform his bold interpretations of his cultural heritage. Through splendidly commanding structures, comprising meticulous forms and complex designs, Rashid’s art practice stands as a contemporary tribute to traditional Middle Eastern
design and architecture.

rashid al khalifa

Past Exhibitions & Projects

  • 2023 First Light, Zurab Tseretseli Museum of Modern Art, Tbilisi, Georgia
  • 2023 First Light, Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku Azerbaijan
  • 2022 Cusp, Liechtenstein Landesmuseum, Vaduz, Liechtenstein
  • 2022 Construction of Light & Shadow, Rosenhang Museum, Weilburg, Germany
  • 2022 Construction of Light & Shadow, Galerie Hotel Mond, Berlin, Germany
  • 2022 Spectrum, Liechtenstein Landesmuseum, Vaduz, Liechtenstein
  • 2021 Rashid Al Khalifa, Opera Gallery, Dubai, UAE
  • 2021 Tesselate, Mario Mauroner Contemporary Art, Vienna, Austria
  • 2019 In Parallel, Bait Muzna Gallery, Muscat, Oman
  • 2018 Penumbra: Textured Shadow, Coloured Light, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
  • Hybrids, Ayyam Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, UAE
  • 2012 Reflections, The Waterline Gallery, Bahrain Financial Harbour, Kingdom of Bahrain
  • 2010 Convex: A New Perspective, Bahrain National Museum, Kingdom of Bahrain
  • 1997 Art Department, Shuman Arts Organization, Amman, Jordan
  • 1996 De Caliet Gallery, Milan, Italy
  • El Kato Kayyel Gallery, Milan, Italy
  • 1982 Middle East Institute, Washington, D.C., USA
  • Sheraton Hotel, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain
  • 1970 Dilmun Hotel, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain
  • 2019 Moscow Biennale, New Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia
  • 2017 Bridges, Grenada Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale, Italy
  • Out of Place, 3rd Mediterranean Biennale, Sakhnin Valley, Israel
  • 2015 Arab Delegation, TRIO Biennial, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Nomi/Names Official Exhibition, 56th Venice Biennale, Italy
  • The Eye of the Thunderstorm: Effervescent Practices from the Arab World,
  • Official Collateral Event, 56th Venice Biennale, Italy
  • 2023 Forever is Now, Pyramids of Giza, Giza, Egypt
  • 2023 East Meets West, Mario Mauroner Gallery, Salzburg, Austria
  • 2023 Time is a Child, Galerist Istanbul, Leros, Greece
  • 2023 Fire- Water- Earth- Air, Mario Mauroner Gallery, Salzburg, Austria
  • 2023 An Intimate Distance, Mario Mauroner Gallery, Salzburg, Austria
  • 2022 Dangerous Beauty, Mario Mauroner Gallery, Salzburg, Austria
  • 2022 Collaborations/ Oliver Mark, Guardini Stiftung, Berlin, Germany
  • 2019 Transverse Wave, me Collectors Room Berlin / Olbricht Collection, Berlin, Germany
  • 2017 Convergence: Royal Bridges, Ritz Carlton, Dubai, UAE
  • 2013 In Dialogue, The Waterline Gallery, Kingdom of Bahrain
  • 2023 LAPADA Art Fair, De Musson, London, UK
  • 2023 Art Dubai, Mario Mauroner Gallery, Dubai, UAE
  • 2023 Art Genève, Mario Mauroner Gallery, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 2022 Intersect Aspen, Galerie Gmurzynska, Aspen, Colorado, USA
  • 2022 Art Brussels, Mario Mauroner Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
  • 2022 Art Dusseldorf, Mario Mauroner Gallery, Dusseldorf, Germany
  • 2021 SCOPE International Contemporary Art Show, Miami Beach, Miami, USA
  • 2021 Contemporary Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
  • 2019 Contemporary Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
  • 2014 WWALA, Los Angeles, USA
  • Art Dubai, UAE
  • 2013 Zurich Art Fair, Switzerland
  • Abu Dhabi Art, UAE
  • Art Dubai, UAE
  • 2012 Abu Dhabi Art, UAE
  • Beirut Art Fair, Lebanon
  • 2016 15/15, Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Heritage,
  • Muharraq, Kingdom of Bahrain
  • Views, Ritz Carlton, Kingdom of Bahrain
  • 2014 Bahrain, Asilah Arts & Culture Forum, Morocco
  • 2013 Bahrain Contemporary Art, Russian Academy, Moscow, Russia
  • 1996 Europe Art Festival, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Bahrain Artists Exhibition, Rome, Italy
  • Sharjah Biennial, UAE
  • 1995 Hotel Du Rond, Geneva, Switzerland
  • World Trade Center, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 1989 Bahrain Arts Society Exhibition, Cairo, Egypt
  • 1988 Festival of Asian Artists, Malaysia
  • New Art Center, Baghdad, Iraq
  • 1986 First GCC Art Exhibition, Tokyo, Japan
  • 1985 Cairo Biennial, Egypt
  • Alia Center, Amman, Jordan
  • 1984 Bahraini Artists, Leighton House, London, England
  • Salon des Artistes Français, Grand Palais, Paris, France
  • 2007 Bahrain Contemporary Art, UNESCO, Paris, France
  • 2005 Modern Art Exhibition, Royal Ireland College of Surgeons, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2004 32nd Annual Art Exhibition, Bahrain National Museum, Kingdom of Bahrain
  • 2002 Bahrain Culture Week, Amman, Jordan
  • Bahrain Culture Week, Peking, China
  • 1999 Taipei Art Exhibition, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah, UAE
  • Dilmun Exhibition, Paris, France
  • 1998 Bahrain Arts Society Exhibition, Gallery Alexander, Ladoux, France
  • 1997 Art Expo Singapore, Singapore
  • Art America Exhibition, Miami, USA
  • 1996 Europe Art Festival, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Bahrain Arts Society Exhibition, Cannes, France
  • Zurab Tseretseli Museum of Modern Art, Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Baku, Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain National Museum, Manama, Bahrain
  • Dr Helmut Marko Collection, Linz, Austria
  • Jamal Fakhro Collection, Manama, Bahrain
  • Aksenov Family Foundation, Moscow, Russia
  • Victoria Hristoff Collection, NY, USA
  • Nikolai Nedeltchev Collection, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Momchil Mondeshki Collection, Sofia Bulgaria