NOME presents a new solo show by Egyptian artist Khaled Hafez.
Khaled Hafez’s artistic approach pulls apart prime dichotomies – modern/traditional, East/West, sacred/profane – to create intercultural iconographies that exceed simplistic analyses of identity.
Realms of the Hyperreal, a title that references Jean Baudrillard’s simulacrum of signs, brings together major works from three aspects of Hafez’s practice: large-scale painting, video, and installation. In bold canvases, Hafez sets in motion a pop topology of Pharaonic symbolism and capitalist mythology. Images from fashion advertising and health culture are ‘kidnapped’, in the artist’s words; digitally manipulated, blown-up and inserted into compositions the scale of Ancient Egyptian wall paintings. Signifiers cross time periods as well as cultures, and superheroes find each other across millennia: see the amalgam of the jackal-headed god Anubis and a ripped Superman.
The permeable line between reality and fiction animates the video Revolution (Liberty, Social Equity, Unity) (2006), a critical take on the postcolonial rule of Egypt and the false promises of various governments. Three screens represent, via the actions of a freedom fighter, military politics, neoliberal bureaucracy and fundamentalism. The protagonist wields a different tool on each screen – a gun, a hammer and a knife – each of which are recast in the corresponding installation Contaminated Belief (2007) into solid copper sculptures, now captured in sleek glass museum vitrines.
Following the Egyptian revolution of 2011, these works take on new significance, demonstrating Hafez’s commitment to the relationship between art and politics, and how one might transform the other. In drawing attention to certain polarities of contemporary life – whether in Egypt, America, or Europe – Hafez’s visual languages seek common artistic ground.