Kamal Boullata (1942 - 2019) is an artist whose work slots in very neatly alongside titans of art history like Josef Albers. One of the beautiful things about discovering new artists is that you realize there was another part of the conversation you weren’t hearing. Boullata built on top of Albers’ and others’ color mixing experiments and combined it with historical and scriptural references, resulting in what critic Nasser Rabbat called “referential abstraction.”
Boullata was born in Jerusalem in 1942, and spent his childhood absorbing the rich patterns, decorations, and colors of the city; its architecture, and its people. He lived for years in Italy and the United States, studying art, history, and traveling, before settling in Berlin late in his life.
Karmel highlights in his book a series of Boullata paintings dedicated to the ancient gates of Jerusalem, which include canvases such as Golden Gate (pictured below — curiously, no good images of this painting exist online — I had to take a photo of the book). The city of Boullata’s childhood was like “an invisible cross he carried in his heart that could only echo as pangs of reminiscences in shape and form and which penetrate his entire oeuvre.”