Jean Khalifeh

An article, Jean Khalife by Hani Abi Saleh


The method in a work painted by Khalifé reveals a presence much out of ordinary - a presence of strength, energy, and a virile rationality of design. Another factor comes to light: the quality of the graceful and energetic colour that explodes in flowers and bouquets and the large contrasting surfaces of sunlight, shadow, and sea.

Drawing and colour, however, remain subservient to an inner truth, truth found in the luminous foreheads of young girls that a contrast of light and shade causes to "hesitate". Sadness, hope, dialogue, exchange - so many gestures of soul and body which express love and expectation. Elsewhere it is the reign of silence and of anguish which can be seen... His painting is equally inspired by those profound movements of the soul which give to the human body such a wealth of emotional expression. And it is essentially a human message, a witness of human tenderness.

Solitude and communication, lines reduced to the essential and the virulence of colour, forms graceful or else fractured - the painting of Jean Khalifé uncovers that dauntless zone of our national identity which knows the double challenge of life and of death. His work delivers this message that is epitomized in the vertical lines of the independence of character and in the emotional richness of the curves with their hospitality, friendship, and love.

His work is full of virile certainty, yet it raises profound questions concerning the modern struggle for form, for essential vectors of force, for colour and economy of gesture. He was able to keep in step with the great international movement of modern painting but he did no, however, lose sight of the fact that painting, true painting, spring from the source itself of the country and of the village.

Hani Abi Saleh