B. Kelantan, 1934
St. Martin’s Series “Model in St. Martin’s”, 1964
Signed and dated “Khalil 64” on lower right
Acrylic on board
73 x 44 cm
Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur
Illustrated on page 118 of “KHALIL IBRAHIM The Art Journey” exhibition book
Published in 2015 by KL Lifestyle Art Space
Khalil Ibrahim graduated from the prestigious St. Martin’s School of Art & Design, United Kingdom in 1964. Thereafter, he became a full-time artist and has been so for fifty years now. He has held solo and group exhibitions in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Switzerland, with most of his works center around figures and are heavily influenced by East Coast fishermen and women.
Khalil painted and sketched a number of portraits. However with the passing years, he often challenged the transient nature of human existence. Although Khalil has seldom been discussed as a portrait painter, he produced a large number of portraits in a variety of media. In many of his portraits, the palette has been composed of pure hues.
In his studies of models, while at St Martin’s he adopted a much more academic style, using naturalistic colours as seen in Model in St. Martin’s 1964 wherein he draws attention to the face by merging the rest of the body to the background. The rigorous teaching of portraiture at the academy ensured that students learnt to be excellent technicians as the distinctive character of the academy was to produce artists who would portray their subjects with powerful simplicity.
Freedom to control interpretation has been essential to Khalil and many of his studies are from reception of unnamed subjects whom he had encountered in passing. Khalil responded strongly to people who were graceful and exotic and often portrayed them through colour.
Khalil only painted two self-portraits of himself in 1965 and later again in 1999 but instead through the very nature of portraiture, he investigated the humanity of his models. Khalil’s portraits are characterised not by their stylistic consistency, but rather by change – quite as much as the other genres in which he has worked.