The Cherry On Top: Khaldoun Hijazin

15 September - 31 October 2021

Our societies have been marked by their quest for truth and transparency yet the body of work produced by Khaldoun Hijazin for The Cherry On Top exposes the complex network of control and manipulation that frames our existence. 

The Cherry On Top is the solo exhibition of Jordanian painter, Khaldoun Hijazin  exhibited at Tabari Artspace, Dubai, September 15  - October 31, 2021. The Cherry On Top comprises 10 oil on canvas and acrylic on canvas paintings as well as two large-scale objects produced in 2021.


Our societies have been marked by their quest for truth and transparency yet the body of work produced by Khaldoun Hijazin for The Cherry On Top exposes the complex network of control and manipulation that frames our existence. The artist exposes the current post-truth space where political and ideological discourses are largely accepted to be both staged and falsified. Through his explorations, Hijazin shatters and subverts thinly veiled illusions revealing the performative and inherited nature of our actions, our simultaneous awareness and acceptance of the theatre of leadership, and the fragility of grandeur.  


Through dark humour and pastiche, Hijazin dissects and dissolves structures of power and dominance in realms from the political to the social. Hijazin understands his art to be an exploration that facilitates the flow of various ideas and concepts rather than a process of direct commentary or documentation. Influences from reading critical theory as well as Marxist and deconstructive discourse are evident in the artist’s practice, particularly in this series. 


From the boardroom to the dining table Hijazin’s characters are lodged in social settings marked by haunting legacies of propaganda, capitalism and colonialism. The artist weaves together a complex constellation of signs and signifiers, lifted from various moments in time and social and cultural contexts. As such, his scenes, existing in the non-linear moment that he established, are difficult to place. Some fragments in his works Middle Feast, Cookie Jar,  and The Cherry on Top - from which the exhibition takes its title - appear to have roots in early twentieth century Arab Bedouin communities while others such as Familiar Faces, Shattered Illusions and Mind the Gap spawn from mid-century Western lobbies alluding to colonial and hegemonic legacies. Hijazin is preoccupied with the notion of legacies - events of the past that continue to reoccur and inform the present. His compositions take on complex and multilayered meanings. The imposition of markers such as the broken chandelier in Shattered Illusions, denotes the collapse of the illusion of ‘true’ progress as claimed by the canon of neoliberalism, while the insertion of a black hole in Mind the Gap, materialises current debate surrounding political transparency and the deliberate disappearance of information. 


Guy Debord’s concept in the ‘Society of the Spectacle’ - where appearances supercede substance - and Judith Butler’s notion of performativity are pronounced in the actions of Hijazin’s characters, particularly in their hand gestures.


The imposition of colour in order to obscure and transform the faces of his characters - often authoritative figures - also recurs throughout several works including Sincerest Masquerade, Familiar Faces, and Faithfully Yours. Hijazin contends that figures of authority and influence shift their colours like chameleons and ‘put on their face’ before their public performance.


Throughout history, scale has been used to assert the importance and power of nobility. In this context, Hijazin’s use of large-scale both references and subverts this tradition. Despite the magnitude of the artist’s 3.5 meter long Shattered Illusions, the frame is cropped so that only the polished shoes of the elite are revealed. This close framing keeps the viewer guessing who and what might have been obscured; alluding to secret, high-level discussions taking place in a male-dominated space.


The two large-scale objects that complete this body of work - Fall From Grace, and Tower of Desire, - take the throne and the cake as superficial and inflated signifiers of success and celebration. Hijazin, investing these icons with cynicism, has left them tilted and imperfect, ready to topple down onto the gallery floor.