Berkeley-based artist Khalil Bendib is practicing a craft that goes back over a millennium, almost to the beginnings of the Muslim religion. Bendib paints on ceramic in a style initiated during the Moorish occupation of Spain in the Middle Ages, usually referred to as the Andalucian or Al-Andalus style. Spark visits Bendib in the studio as he works in this centuries old tradition.
Bendib comes from a long line of Andalus-style painters, stretching back through generations of his family. He first learned to paint from his uncle, Mustapha Maiza, a well-known ceramic artist in Algeria. Eager to continue his studies, Bendib went on to attend the Beaux Arts school of Algiers, working under the acclaimed painter Mohammed Temmam.
Though his work looks back to traditional designs and themes, Bendib often tries to interweave his own personal interests into his subject matter. Paintings often begin with a dream or recollection that will trigger an idea for a design. After working out a sketch on paper, Bendib then transfers the image onto a piece of ceramic in the form of a line painting. Finally, Bendib fills in his design with color, bringing the image to life.
Khalil Bendib grew up in Morocco and Algieria. After finishing his bachelor’s degree in Algiers, Bendib came to the United States, completing a MA at the University of Southern California in 1982. In addition to being a professional sculptor, Bendib produces political cartoons that have been published around the United States.