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Abdelhak Benallou

Artist Painter
September 2023


  • Visual Arts
  • Chicago

“Through my painted works, which I often present as series, I seek to reflect on social behaviors and relationships within society today.”

My painting is built on realism. I am interested in both the technical aspect of this practice and, more particularly, the pursuit of pictorial storytelling. Through my painted works, which I often present as series, I seek to reflect on social behaviors and relationships within society today. I am intrigued by the changes that occur between generations, both among human beings and in technology. My works are often inspired by scenes from my everyday life.

Throughout my studies at various French fine art schools (Écoles des Beaux-Arts), I have become acquainted with a number of media, such as sculpture, ceramics, painting, and photography. Early on, however, I understood that painting would be my chosen domain. Within this incredibly varied discipline, I also quickly became aware of my preference for oil-on-canvas, as it allowed me to achieve the desired result in my works.

I have always been fascinated by historical painting styles, particularly chiaroscuro, whereby the artist plays with contrasts between light and dark in figurative compositions. I use this play of shadow and light in my own work, producing imperceptible transitions of varying sharpness or roughness. This ambivalence is present in my most recent projects, including my series of portraits that place a photographed subject in a very tight frame and feature a restricted color palette, thus creating a certain intimacy and inviting the beholder into a contemplative state.

Born in 1992 in Chlef, Algeria, Abdelhak Benallou lives and works in Paris. After five years at the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts d’Alger, he got a a degree at the École Supérieure d’art de Dunkerque in 2019, he is currently in his 4th year at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris. First place winner of the second edition of the Sarr Prize in February of 2022, given by the Sarr collection in partnership with the Beaux-Arts de Paris; awarded the portraiture prize by the Amis des Beaux-Arts in June of 2022; selected for the Emerige grant which will be attributed in October of 2022. 

Since arriving at the Beaux-Arts de Paris, I have been working on several series of oil paintings that have immersed me in a world where light plays a crucial role in creating a particular atmosphere.

My creative process starts by depicting imagined conversations from my mind through photography, which I then develop into paintings, many representing scenes of home life.

This residency at Villa Albertine will be my first discovery of the United States. Chicago offers an opportunity for me to open up to the city’s outdoor landscape, presenting new light play and new ways of structuring space, all of which will serve to inspire my work.

As is my habitual practice, I will start with an exploratory phase by taking photographs on location. In doing so, I hope to get up close and personal with residents to better grasp the issues that typify American society, and the particular relationships that are forged between people. Following this, I will embark on a new series of oil paintings, the first of which may well be completed during my trip.

Chicago is a city steeped in cinema with an urban landscape ingrained in our collective consciousness. The widespread, lit-up, magnified depictions of the city have served as the setting of numerous American audiovisual productions watched all across the world.

Its outdoor spaces feature lighting that differs greatly from that found in Algeria or France, with its profusion of glow-in-the-dark neon signs and high-rises shining brightly through the night. This all makes for a unique cityscape, especially at nightfall, and offers an entirely different, less intimate, and much more spectacular form of chiaroscuro. It seems to me to be an ideal terrain for nourishing my inspiration as I attempt to capture what this spectacle reveals, exploring, in particular, consumer society and the relationships between those who belong to it.

In partnership with

Beaux-Arts de Paris

Founded in 1817, the Beaux-Arts de Paris is both a publishing house and a center of artistic training, experimentation, exhibitions, and conservation of historical and contemporary collections. The Beaux-Arts de Paris trains high-level artists and is an essential part of the international contemporary art scene.


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SARR Collection

Catherine and Mamadou-Abou Sarr passionately collect and support Art Initiatives and institutions in the U.S., France and West Africa.  With a large focus on contemporary photography, the SARR Collection spans over seventy years of production, crossing over into mediums of painting and sculpture with work from iconic artists but also focusing on emerging artists. In 2021, they created the SARR Prize in partnership with Les Beaux-Arts Paris to support and empower artists at an early stage in their practices.

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