Mohammad Omer Khalil

Mohammed Omar Khalil was born in Khartoum, Sudan, in 1936 and lives and works in New York City since 1967. Khalil is one of the Arab world’s most important contemporary painters, having influenced two generations of regional artists. His work, spanning over forty years, across painting and print-making, is in a privileged position between the canon of modern Arab art and the artist’s ground-breaking practice, searching for a dialogue between dissimilar cultures. Profoundly influenced by his travels throughout the Middle East – in particular Morocco and Sudan – and the art history of Europe that he became immersed in during his studies in Italy, Khalil has brought to life a pioneering form of art, in which elements and patterns from tradition merge with pop art and fine prints.


Khalil’s work illustrates with vividness the complex relationship between the symbolic forms of the East and the conceptual art born in Europe. His series “The Battle of San Romano” is a contemporary rendition of the history paintings by the 15th century Florentine artist credited with pioneering in visual perspective, and not unlike Khalil, someone who transitioned between the late Gothic and the Early Renaissance. Using the same dimensions as Ucello’s grand-scale panels, the Sudanese artist’s canvases reproduce the perspective depth in a collage technique deploying his multi-layered signature symbolic order, merging at once fresco and mosaic. The effect is heightened by the introduction of decorative elements from the Islamic world and a balanced aura of earth colors.  


A master print-maker on his own right, Mohammed Omar Khalil has been also working on etching throughout his whole career, using an age-old technique of the European masters to illustrate the book of contemporary art, inspired by the tragic history of the 20th century, letting his imagination run free and yet, running counter to the saturation of color and brightness typical of the pop art age. He has developed a composite grammar of omnipresent blackness, retrieving a primal simplicity as the preferred site for his cosmopolitan observations and the stage of his many aesthetic interventions that sooner or later found their way into the more colorful canvases. At the climax of his creative forces, the artist’s desire to inflect the consciousness of the era is made manifest in discreet impressions.


Mohammed Omar Khalil studied at the School of Fine and Applied Art in Khartoum, Sudan and then pursued graduated studies in fresco painting and print-making in Florence. Since then, he has been living in the United States and until recently, taught at the Parsons School of Design in the New School. His work has been part of numerous solo and group exhibitions in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and the Americas. The artist’s work is found in different public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, Grenoble Museum in France, the Jordanian National Museum and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. A retrospective of his print-making work with an accompanying monograph will be showcased at Albareh in 2014. 




Born in Burri, Sudan, 1936




1956-1959 Diploma in Painting, School of Fine and Applied Art, Khartoum

1963-1966 Diploma in Fresco Painting and Mosaics,Academy of Fine Arts,(Ministry of Education of Sudan Fine Arts Scholarship), Florence

1966 Diploma in Mosaics,Academy of Fine Arts, Ravenna



1979 Galerie Basamat, Casablanca Galerie Structure B.S., Rabat Galerie Layla Farawi, Casablanca 1981 New School University, New York Cinque Gallery, New York

1984 Limited Art Editions, New York

1986 Alif Gallery, Washington, DC 1987 Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York Marlene Eleini Gallery, London

1992 Alif Gallery, Washington, DC Galerie Teinturerie, Paris Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris Al-Wasiti Gallery,Amman

1994 Mohammad Omar Khalil,Etchings; Amir I.M. Nour, Sculpture, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

2001 Hunterdon Museum of Art, Clinton, New Jersey

2002 Rochan Fine Arts, Jeddah Skoto Gallery, New York

2004 Hassan II Centre for International Encounters, Asilah Galerie Hakim, Asilah

2008 Recent Works, Albareh Art Gallery, Bahrain Recent Works, Skoto Gallery, New York

2010 Paulo Uccello,The Battle of San Romano, Albareh Art Gallery, Bahrain

2011 Art Sudan (with Ibrahim Salahi), Meem Gallery, Dubai



1984 El Paso Museum of Art,Texas Tacoma Art Museum, Washington Seventh Norwegian Print Biennial, Fredrickstad African-American Museum of Life and Culture, Dallas,Texas

1985 International Triennial of Original Graphic Prints, Grenchen Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina

1986 Alif Gallery, Washington, DC Baghdad International Festival, Baghdad 1987 June Kelly Gallery, New York

1988 Al-Wasiti Gallery, Amman Sudan Art Aid, Sudan Cultural Center, London

1989 Barbican Centre, London Centre Cultural Ranco, Oslo

1990 International Monetary Fund Centre, Washington, DC

1991 Osaka Triennial Fifth International Biennial Print Exhibition,Taipei University of Hawaii, Hilo 1992 Alif Gallery, Washington, DC

1993 Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

2002 Perspective on Contemporary Arab Art: The Kinda Foundation Collection, Institute du Monde Arabe, Paris

2003 Broken Letter: Contemporary Art from Arab Countries, Kunsthalle Darmstadt and Kinda Foundation, Darmstadt

2006 Word into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East, British Museum, London

2007 Contemporary Print, Albareh Art Gallery, Bahrain Art Inspired by Poetry, Darat Al Funun, Amman

2008 Tawasel/Continuity: Contemporary Artists from Sudan,Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQ), Doha Word into Art: Artists from the Modern Middle East, British Museum, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)

2009 Faces and Letters, VCUQ, Doha

2010 Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha SELECTED AWARDS & GRANTS

1978 Louise Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, New York

1979 Society of American Graphic Artists, New York: Purchase Award

1980 Third World International Exhibition, London,Third Prize

1987 Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York: Counsel of the Arts Grant

1991 Osaka Triennial: Bronze Medal

1993 International Biennial of Cairo: First Prize

1997 New School University, New York: Teaching Excellence Award

2001 National Academy of Design, New York: First Prize in Printmaking

2003 National Academy of Design, New York: First Prize in Printmaking



Bibliotheque National de France, Paris

Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York

Brooklyn Museum, New York City of New York

Museum Musee de Grenoble, Grenoble Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris

Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman

Library of Congress, Washington, DC

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Museum of History,Taipei

Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad

Museum of Modern Art, Cairo

Museum of Modern Art, Osaka

National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC



American Express Financial Advisors, Inc., New York

Con Edison, New York

The McArthur Foundation, Chicago,

Illinois Skadden, Arps, Meagher and Flom, New York



1959-1963 Head of Painting, School of Fine and Applied Art, Khartoum

1967 Head of Painting, Khartoum Technical Institute

1971-1983 Adjunct Professor of Printmaking, Pratt Institute, New York

1971-2012 Adjunct Professor of Printmaking, New School University, New York

1978-1980 Head of Studios, International Cultural Moussem, Summer Symposia and Workshops, Asilah

1983-2005 Head of Studios, International Summer Symposia and Workshops, Asilah

1991 Substitute Teacher, Printmaking, New York University

1988-2012 Adjunct Professor of Printmaking, Parsons School of Design, New York 2000-2002 Adjunct Professor of Printmaking, Columbia University, New York