Signed on reverse
Oil on canvas
51 x 63 inches
Ziad Kaki applies a cinematic approach to his paintings, creating vivid staged dramas through his confident use of colour and abstractions.
Mystery (2020) depicts a disparate group of figures who inhabit the painting’s foreground. The central three figures, who appear as simple silhouettes of colour stretch out their arms searching into the inky depths of the painting’s background. Though the figures are packed closely together, they appear entirely self-occupied, existing in their own worlds, Kaki invokes the suggested mystery of the painting’s title through this disconnectedness. The viewer appears to have stumbled into a film still, caught in a frozen moment of frenzied action.
Kaki disrupts the scene further through a blurring of figurative and abstract elements. In the painting’s background we can trace the outline of a natural mountainous landscape, with sparse trees populating the foreground. Bold blocks of red and green distort the painting’s depth, acting as simple props to support the figures and lending the painting a greater ambiguity.
Mystery uses a variety of vivid, saturated colours to illustrate the raw and surreal emotion of the work. Definite and controlled brushstrokes detail the faces in the left foreground and background. The naive style, mixings of purples and reds, elaborate the figures’ anguish, while the brighter yellow and orange tones lend the painting heat.
The curious monkey-like creature who surveys the scene seems to represent the onlooker of the painting, leaning in intently trying to decipher what is happening. Through his use of colour and simplified form, Kaki creates a scene which offers continued possibilities allowing for renewed interpretations on each viewing and the continued revelation of fresh details.
Born in 1993 in Switzerland, Ziad Kaki graduated with a BA from Northeastern University, Boston in 2017. He is currently undertaking an MA in Painting at Central Saint Martins, graduating in June 2021.
Inspired by real-life events, Kaki creates surreal, large-scale paintings which he views as cinematic, screen-like worlds. Reminiscent of history paintings the works focus on the relations between the figures, with Kaki’s vibrant colour palette heightening their emotive atmosphere. His work blurs the boundaries of figuration and abstraction using a mixture of simplified and detailed forms to add to their eerie quality.
Kaki adds details into his works such as graphic cuboid shapes to disrupt the paintings’ natural landscapes and to obscure the viewer’s reality, as if setting his works on a stage.