"The painting is a self-portrait…and I'm my own worst enemy." - Abdullah Qandeel


Born in 1988, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Qandeel lives and works in New York City.


"When it comes down to my art my ideas are universal and simple, I just focus on subject matters that are necessary to discuss today and are important for positive social development. I have an opportunity and a moral obligation as an artist to intelligently entice a dialogue, a pure dialogue that cannot be influenced by anyone. I am not worried about ideas; I am focused on finding a beautiful form in order for the ideas to shine" (Abdullah Qandeel in conversation with Jamie Martinez, 'A Couple of Questions for Artist Abdullah Qandeel', Art Fuse Magazine, 16 November 2013, online ed.).


Saudi Arabian artist Abdullah Qandeel creates passionate and unapologetic abstract paintings. Through bold use of line and color, Qandeel illustrates the coalescing of Saudi traditional norms and the vastly changing cultural landscape of the Arab world. As provocateur, he invites and instigates dialogue. His canvases decree: "I hereby state that I no longer accept the stereotype and the prison that has been handed to me over generations of time. I invite you to observe, feel and absorb the development of the new Arab culture, the revival of a new generation where investigation replaces revelation."


As part of the Open versus Closed series which was exhibited in New York in 2013, The Enemy Within is a rare self-portrait. Qandeel peers out at the viewer with an almost naive curiosity; a young artist in the early stages of his career exploring his artistic talents, questioning his belief system, and acknowledging his own limitations. With a mature and introspective approach, the crown on his head seems to nod to the privilege and responsibility he feels as an artist and as a proponent of cultural change. Since 2011, the artist has exhibited in New York, Monte Carlo and Jeddah gaining critical acclaim and popularity. In 2012, Qandeel was requested by the Saudi Arabian Mission to the UN to exhibit as a solo artist at the Waldorf Astoria, New York in celebration of Saudi Arabia's National Day where one of his paintings was presented by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a gift to the US Ambassador to the UN. Today, Qandeel continues to explore his two favorite mediums - oil on canvas and precision drawing, while continuing to develop a singular style that is as dynamic as his personality.