What's On With : Saeed Khalifa

The past fourteen months of My Velvet Instant’s existence entailed copious art intakes at galleries, fairs, and auctions, often leading to the same interrogations - who is this artist? What is he (she) like in real life? What makes him (her) tick? Drowned by abundant information on technique, style, and market performances, personal questions were answered very seldom. And yet isn’t that the point - discovering artists the way you would get to know any other person, in order to understand their practice? The new format of My Velvet Instant, titled What’s on with… aims at debunking these more intimate details and starts with Emirati artist Saeed Khalifa - winner of the International Emerging Artist Award (2014), currently represented by Madrid-based Sabrina Amrani Gallery. 

Saeed Khalifa, Self Portrait

Saeed was awarded for his photographic series titled Deliverance, exposing how the routine of our lives and the absence of independent thinking can annihilate our potential. “For as long as I can remember, my work has been about the experiences I went through. This is where Deliverance came from” he comments. In his Europe debut at Sabrina Amrani gallery, he introduced Beasts,  a reactionary work inspired by the observation of his surroundings. “[Beasts] is a comment rather than a cathartic release. It was very urgent and radical and I think the same goes for my new collection” he explains. While his new series is in the making, here’s more about Saeed Khalifa: 

Deliverance IX (Chapter II), 2012 - 2014

What’s On: 

Your art love / hate radar lately?

Art love
I am obsessed with transformations. The idea of change is scary and it’s such a driving force. Currently, I am also in love with audio: sounds, not music. Just how things sound. I find it so interesting. 

Despised art word
JUXTAPOSITION !!!!!! I am not a simpleton, but I tend to use basic words to describe my work because they are honest. Anything else is a bit much.

Pet peeve
Unfinished work. Rushed work. I like to see effort.

Your studio’s playlist? 
Abel Korzeniowski
Dhruva Aliman
RuPaul ( YES! )
Antony & The Johnsons
St. Lucia

Your wall?
My polaroids and my books are on my walls and a lot of little trinkets and things that I collect from my travels or someone dear gives to me. 

Your muse list? 
This list seems to be fixated on my mother, Madonna, and Bjork. 

The Bride, 2014
Your imaginary dinner table?
Caravaggio, Alexander McQueen, Madonna, Frida Kahlo, Bernini, and Francis Bacon. It would be the most dysfunctional and brilliant dinner party ever. And possibly a survival challenge. I have a feeling knives would be thrown at one another with passion.  

Your nightstand?
My room is a mini-library: magazines and books are everywhere. Instead of a bed, I sleep on a small mattress, surrounded by them :) I love them.

Your bucket list ?
Create a self portrait series that is set in Iceland
Be on the level of the artists I love and appreciate
Work hard enough for my work to be studied years from now
Have one or two shows open in different parts of the world at the very same moment, (in different time zones), so people can experience it differently.

And finally, what’s on next? 
Hopefully a big announcement for the end of 2015 ;) and constant creation of new work. 

Read more about Saeed Khalifa here 
All images courtesy of Sabrina Amrani Gallery and the artist