Hanny Al Khoury: La La Lands
Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, AB - Feb 18 - May 21
Born in the Arab Palestinian village of Eilabun in 1990, Hanny Al Khoury was raised in a minority Christian community that, according to his website, “valued critical debate.” He received his first technical training in a high school–sponsored art program under the supervision of Ola Al-Henawi and participated in religious activities that aided in his development as an artist. After graduation in 2006 (the year of the Lebanon War with Israel), he furthered his studies at the Manshar Hamanhal College in Tel Aviv.
After what he calls “many failed attempts to break into the art world,” Al Khoury returned to Eilabun before resuming his studies under Michael Hallag at the University of Haifa in 2012, where he studied oil painting. He came to some attention in 2015 with an outsized portrait of a Palestinian poet, a work that earned him a Guinness World Record for the “largest mosaic painting using toast.” Since 2017, Al Khoury has resided in Canada, producing work for solo exhibitions in Bethlehem and Abu Dhabi.
Stylistically, Al Khoury’s paintings are surrealistic, favouring allusive forms drawn together in an at-times contrasting system of interference and exchange. An exemplary work is Revenge (2022), which, in its elements, brings to mind a number of Western artists, including Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and Philip Guston. Present in this predominantly tawny-coloured paint- ing is an array of religious symbols – transmogrifications of the sacred and the profane. But the overriding tension here lies less in the particulars than in a standoff between containment and release.