Five questions to Michele Cade Khelifi

Five questions to Michele Cade Khelifi

Five questions to Gaia Sun Reading Five questions to Michele Cade Khelifi 4 minutes Next Five questions to Marjorie Thompson

Michele Cade Khelifi, born in London in 1980. And as a true Londoner she is of mixed culture, French, south african, uruguayan and british. She went on to study at both Camberwell College of Art and Central St Martin’s. After a career in branding in her home city, she moved to Hong Kong where she rediscovered her passion for painting. Immersed in Chinese calligraphy, she was captivated by the writing process and the meditative state of creation. After a decade in Asia, she relocated to Dubai, where she currently works from her studio in Al Quoz known for its raw and authentic atmosphere. Tell us your story, why did you become an artist?

My creative journey started in my father's silkscreen factory in the heart of London. It was a paradise of wonder and excitement. The factory had endless rolls of fabrics that created a labyrinth for my sister and me to explore. We would play games of hide and seek amongst the towering spools, and our giggles would echo through the cavernous space. But what truly captivated me were the talented pattern designers. They would gracefully sketch elaborate designs that would come to life on the most exquisite fabrics for renowned fashion brands like Vivienne Westwood or watching the screens being laid on long print tables and meticulously hand printed. Watching how they fearfully laid the silkscreens onto the print table, methodically pulling the squeegee down the screen, it was mesmerizing. 

Surrounded by the colours and smells of vibrant inks, dazzling color combinations, and elaborate patterns, I felt transported to a realm where limitations did not exist. It was a my happy place, a utopia that nurtured my artistic spirit. 

When you create a new work, how do you go about it? What comes first?

First comes the world around me. By this I mean I am totally influenced by what might be affecting me at the time I go into my studio, it could be the state of the world, politics, a conversation I might have had the night before, or a more personal sentiment like grief. These feelings will affect the piece that I create. I put on my music, prepare my inks, lay out my canvas and let go. It is ritualistic, my Chinese brushes and inks laid out on the floor, charcoals selected, and calm before the storm.  

The words are intuitive, uninhibited, uncensored, I will write what I feel, layer upon layer, not choosing what to conceal or what to reveal; it is an organic evolution. What can you tell us about your studio, what makes it special to you and how does it influence the way you work?

I am blessed to have an amazing, shared studio space in Al Quoz, the creative and far grittier part of Dubai. Studio thirteen is my safe place, a hidden warehouse where I can get as messy as I want and have the space to create large scale pieces. Sharing a space with other creatives from around the world is priceless. Sharing ideas, combining techniques, and just having time to exchange is what drives me to create. As was my father’s silk screen factory, it has become my creative playground.  Is there a work of art in your life that has especially impressed you?

I cannot say that there is one single piece of art that has impressed me but a whole region of art. Growing up in London I knew very little about Middle Eastern art but having recently moved to Dubai over a year ago I have discovered the rich history through the amazing artists they have here. The Barjeel Art Foundation for me is the first place one should start, to discover the past and present talent of the region. There is a real energy happening in the region and I am happy to be  
a part of it.  

Reach to the stars: where will you be in 5 years?

I will continue to create, to travel and exhibit as much as I can, getting inspired by new perspectives.Learn more about the artist: