ALI KAAF, born in 1977 in Oran, Algeria to Syrian parents, lives and works in Berlin. He graduated from the Institut des Beaux-Arts in Beirut, Lebanon, and continued his studies at Universität der Künste (UdK) in Berlin under the supervision of Professors Marwan Kassab Bachi and Rebecca Horn.
He has received numerous awards since then: In 2004, he was awarded the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Prize for Outstanding International Students, assigned by UdK in Berlin, and from 2005 to 2006 he worked as Artist in Residence at Solidere in Beirut. In 2010, he received the Young Collectors for MAXXI prize by the Young Collectors Association in Rome, and in 2014 he was awarded the Honorary AIR Award by the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley.
In his multifaceted work, Ali Kaaf develops unique artistic forms exploring point and line, shallow space and depth, black and white, planes and shapes, rhythm, fire, erosion, light and shadow – rendered into different variations in a range of different materials. His paperwork, glass works, video art, installations and photographic works have been shown in numerous solo exhibitions in renowned international venues such as the Darat al Funun, Khalid Shoman Foundation in Amman; the Khan Ashad-Bacha in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut, Damascus; Solidere, Beirut; Galerie Haus am Lützowplatz, Berlin; Galleria Marie-Laure Fleisch in Rome; Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings, USA; and at the Moontower Foundation in Bad König-Zell in Germany. They have also featured in notable galleries and museums such as Rebecca Horn and Guests, Contemporary Art Museum in Maribor, and Villa Grisebach in Berlin; three pieces from his Mihrab series and photographic work from Ras-Ras were shown in the Taswir exhibition at the Martin-Gropius Bau in Berlin (2009). Kaaf also recently took part in the SyriArt exhibition at the Institut du Monde Arabe (2013). These and other works have received considerable media coverage in print and broadcast, including Arte East, ARTE TV - Metropolis, and the magazine Künstler – Kritisches Lexikon der Gegenwartskunst, with an article by Doris von Drathen.
Ali Kaaf is always on the lookout for new contexts and mediums for his work. He has been working with the glassblower James Mongrain in Seattle on a regular basis since 2011, creating smooth, sculptural shapes which the artist presents under titles such as “Helmet”, “Tattoo”, and “larynx” (2014) in a variety of constellations along with his recent works on paper, including “rift”, “Dress”, “Wall” and “Burn Mark”. The cracks, shadows, scars and scorch marks in his paperwork, video art, photography and works of glass evoke loss, grief, and resistance to disappearance, especially against the background of violence and destruction marking the artist’s war-torn home country Syria.