Khaled Ben Slimane (Tunisian, b. 1954)
Khaled Ben Slimane (Tunisian, b. 1954)


Khaled Ben Slimane (Tunisian, b. 1954)
signed in Arabic and dated '2014-2015' (lower centre)
acrylic and metallic paint on canvas
78 ¾ x 78 ¾in. (200 x 200cm.)
Painted in 2014-2015
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
"The Tenth Edition of Art Dubai", in Islamic Arts Magazine, 22 March 2016 (accessed online).
K. Spirou, "Pearls in the Desert: Highlights from Dubai Art Week 2016", in Yatzer, 5 April 2016 (accessed online).

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Masa Al-Kutoubi

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Lot Essay

'I painted, I drew, I played around with Japanese and Arabic calligraphy on wood, on paper. I didn't have to make a choice; I learnt everything between Spain and Japan. My reading no doubt guided me. I went round in circles looking at the blank work. I got into frenzy, a passion for the sign, I repeated the name of God endlessly, the name of Allah submerged my work. My need to transcend had found an echo, the name of God on earthen shapes. This stage enabled me to be more accurate, more concentrated. But it's true, I am at the same time a painter, a ceramist and a sculptor.'
(The artist in conversation with Marianne Catzaras, in M. Catzaras, Khaled Ben Slimane Ceramics of Tunisia, Paris 2004, p. 41).

Khaled Ben Slimane is one of the most important contemporary artists of North Africa. A philosopher in a true meaning of the word, his entire oeuvre is derived from his undeniable faith in Islam. Manifested clearly and directly in his art, the deep rooted values of Arabic tradition, culture, history and heritage remain concurrent themes in his unique depictions of repetitions of words, geometrical forms and references to algebra, optics and astronomy.

Christie’s is honoured to present a captivating work entitled Howa that fantastically combines soft edge geometric shapes, lines, dots, squares, circles and repeated Arabic texts in a mystical and meditative amalgamation of poetic creativity that is unparalleled. With a strong sense of musicality to its composition, Ben Slimane constructs a set of structurally intertwined geometric windows, whereby in the large central circle the word Howa (translated as God almighty) takes central stage. As the same word is applied hundreds of times over in successive repetition, Ben Slimane invokes the trance-like sense of a community gathered in prayer, each small stroke emphasising a magical note that offers a sense of soothing tranquillity and peace of mind to a troubled soul. Invoking a talismanic charm that propagates the notion that God is almighty and a source of power that is well beyond human control, Howa thus transforms into a captivating and unifying symbol between the material and spiritual world, dazzling as a strength of conviction and faith against the rich blue of the turquoise reference to the evil eye. In this sense Ben Slimane emphasises the notion that God watches over us all in a manner that is at once both visually and spiritually arresting.

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