Mohammad Omer Khalil: Musings

Watson Galleries, September 28, 2023 - June 1, 2024

Mohammad Omer Khalil: Musings

About the Exhibition

Musings presents a survey of work by artist Mohammad Omer Khalil (b. 1936, Khartoum, Sudan; lives and works in New York), a master printmaker, painter, and influential teacher whose career spans over six decades. Khalil belongs to the first generation of Sudanese modern artists and is celebrated as the first printmaker of his generation to emerge from the Arab world.

His classical training began in the College of Fine and Applied Arts in Khartoum under the Greek painter Aristomenis Angelopoulos; Khalil later taught painting at the school from 1959 to 1963. In 1963, he was granted a scholarship by the Sudanese Ministry of Education to continue his studies at the Florence Academy of Fine Arts where he was taught fresco painting under Primo Conti and etching under Rodolfo Margheri. He returned to Sudan to head the painting department at the Khartoum Technical Institute before immigrating to New York in 1967.

Khalil has spent most of his career between Morocco, where he led the Asilah Printmaking Workshop, and New York, where he taught at the renowned Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop. From 1973 to 2012, he taught etching at Pratt Institute, The New School, Columbia University, and New York University. Since 1970 Khalil has operated a printing atelier in New York City, printing editions for pioneering and internationally known artists Louise Nevelson, Jim Dine, Norman Lewis, Romare Bearden, Al Held, Sean Scully, Emma Amos, among others. 

A prolific artist, Khalil’s work has been exhibited and collected widely in major galleries and museums in the United States, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Arab world, including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Brooklyn Museum; the Bronx Museum of the Arts; the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Musée de Grenoble; the British Museum; and the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts in Amman.

Khalil’s abstract compositions focus on the interplay between light and dark, color and pattern, and are informed by his Sudanese root and Western art training. His imagery combines found objects and references to notable literary figures and artists. By way of abstraction, Khalil challenges the viewer to look carefully and meditate on his images as he himself reflects on memories of people and places.

Mohammad Omer Khalil: Musings was organized by Isra El-beshir, director of museums, and co-curated by Patricia Hobbs, senior curator of art, and students Hailey Neaman ’25, Aislinn Niimi ’24, Annabel Symington ‘25, and Annie Zajicek ’24.  

The exhibition is made possible by the generosity of Mohammad Omer  Khalil, who gifted the Museums at W&L several works, and Mrs. Jane Joel Knox, who provided funds to support the Spring term Seminar in Museum Studies, and, in part, by the Provost’s Office’s Spring Term Course Enhancement Fund and the Art Collection Gift Fund.

Museums at Washington and Lee University

On View: September 28, 2023 - June 1, 2024

Location: Watson Galleries
Event: Opening Reception, September 28 at 5:30 p.m.

Photo (left): Homage to Basquiat 2, 2022
Mohammad Omer Khalil (b. 1936, Sudan)
Oil, collage on canvas
On loan from the artist

Events and Programming

Opening Reception

September 28, 2023, 6:30 — 7:30 p.m.

Watson Galleries

Join the Museums at W&L for the opening reception of Musings. Food and drink provided – IDs required for consumption of alcoholic beverages. The event is free and open to all members of the W&L community and the public.

*Photo by Arthur Mones (1997.162.5). Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum

Lunch and Learn — Stories of Migration

Select Mondays in 2023, 12:00 — 1:00 p.m.

Reeves Museum of Ceramics

Join us for a special Lunch and Learn series inspired by our current exhibitions that will explore themes of migration, diaspora, and identity. Lunch is provided, but be sure to sign up quickly. All are welcome.

And We Love Life: A Short Films Program

November 7, 2023, 7:00 p.m.
Stackhouse Theater
Inspired by our current exhibition, We Love Life Whenever We Can, the Museums invites you to an evening of contemporary short films by Arab and South Asian filmmakers: Bouchaib (dir. by Ali Boudra, runtime 13 min.), Cousins (Karina Dandashi, 13 min.), and Sweet Refuge (Maryam Mir, 12 min.). Join us for a post-screening discussion on identity, culture, community, and pride. 
Note: Space is limited; first come, first served. For accommodations, please contact 
Photo (left): Film still from Sweet Refuge (2023), ©Maryam Mir, ©Chheangkea Ieng

Artist Talk and Gallery Stroll with Mohammad Omer Khalil

Thursday, November 30, 2023, 5:30 — 7:00 p.m.
Leyburn Library, Northen Auditorium

The Museums at W&L invite you to join us for a moderated conversation with master printmaker and painter Mohammad Omer Khalil. The talk will be followed by a gallery stroll of MUSINGS with the artist in Watson Galleries. Light refreshments and appetizers provided. The event is free and open to all.

*Photo by artist Dia Al Azzawi (2014). Courtesy of Albareh Contemporary

**This event was previously postponed due to an emergency.