Khalifa Qattan in the early sixties when he discovered Circlism
Khalifa Qattan was not an ordinary artist. He was a man of vision. Khalifa Qattan was ahead of his time by decades. Circlism was discovered quite by chance when his wife, Lidia, also an artist and writer, commented on the way he was painting, as if inspired by some sort of trance! Before discovering Circlism, Khalifa experimented with different styles of art as any artist would, until his wife Lidia noticed something different in his painting. Khalifa was a man of few words, deeply pensive and loved knowledge and read almost everything he could get his hands on, his extensive library is witness to that. He was more of a philosopher but expressed his feelings, thoughts and ideas through his brush and through his writings. Few people knew he was a writer and poet, for the scarcity of his literature.
When Khalifa painted, most of the time he was unaware of his strokes. As if the brush had a soul of its own! His paintings would initially begin with a feeling aroused by some sort of incident, and he would pick up his brush and begin to draw the feeling that would subsequently evolve into a thought or idea and he would continue to paint lines, curves, colours and the result would bloom into a magnificent masterpiece of a harmonious dance of spiritual and philosophical interplay of mind, soul, and matter. However, Khalifa could not explain his work in words. Luckily, his lifelong partner and soul mate, Lidia, could put the words where there were none. Lidia could find the words that Khalifa could not. She could translate the symbols and colours into ideas and meanings which is evident through her writings of Khalifa’s numerous books, and thousands of articles she has been writing in newspapers since 1972, but even Lidia, sometimes was dumbfounded in front of an avalanche of symbols of hidden meanings.
Khalifa, however, was never bothered by his inability to explain a painting completely. He knew what it was and what it meant to him, but he felt it unnecessary to explain it. Khalifa often said: “It is not necessary to explain a painting, because I prefer the audience to interpret the painting the way they want to without my influence. I believe every individual can see the painting from his or her perspective and it is equally correct. I don’t believe I have the right to interfere with their thought process.” Khalifa was so modest and so respectful of the human mind that he didn’t even feel the need to put a title to his painting for not wanting to influence the observer.
Many people who knew Khalifa loved, respected, and admired him deeply for his modesty, generosity, and kindness. Khalifa also had bitter enemies who hated his guts for always speaking the truth. He was a man who sought the truth in everything in life. Khalifa also had the courage to speak his mind and express his ideas boldly in his paintings. Khalifa was not interested in materialistic things or social status. He had a deep appreciation and value for life, in all its forms. He valued women especially for their special role in society, in the family and in life. Khalifa Qattan existed as a Messenger, and his paintings with their deep philosophical meaning, are universal messages for generations to come.