With an outlook shaped by his academic foundation in architectural engineering, Khalid Al Banna’s mixed media works are informed by an astute sense of form and space. Long hours spent dedicated to self-study were complemented by informal training in painting and sculpture at the Emirates Fine Arts Society and an etching apprenticeship with Yasir Al Duwaik. Indicative of his diligence, Al Banna recognises that art requires perpetual development, dedication and refinement. He has neither been afraid to drastically change his practice – abandoning etching for drawing and painting – nor to meticulously repeat processes to gain thorough insight. From black and white works his practice has burst into brilliant, vibrant three dimensions with sculptural fabric collages. He works simultaneously across these two series, reflecting on the past and the complexity of cultural changes in the UAE.
As well as solo exhibitions at Emirates Fine Arts Society and the Higher Colleges of Technology, he has featured in numerous group exhibitions, including ‘Emirati Expressions I’ (2009), the 7th Sharjah Biennial (2005) and in ‘Portrait of a Nation (2016), one of the largest exhibitions of UAE contemporary art to date at the Abu Dhabi Festival, organised ADMAF.
Al Banna’s work can be found in the collections of the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture & Knowledge Development, the Culture Department of Sharjah and the UAE embassies in the USA and Montenegro.
“I feel that the very fabrics used in the making of traditional women’s dresses are imbued with joy and delight. Often created for special and happy events, the vivid colours and textures are inseparable from the emotions and feelings of these occasions. I use materials that are associated with these social gatherings to try and create a work evocative of the traditions and emotions of weddings in the UAE… I have been experimenting with fabrics – which is taken from the jalabiya – since 2009. It is rarely used by other artists but, for me, incorporating the material in my work was a way of keeping alive the traditions which the fabrics are synonymous with. That said, while traditional, I think the vivid colours and fabrics also give a contemporary feel to the work.”