Latest News

ANA Spotlight: Khuloud el Zwai, Self-taught Painter

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Khuloud el Zwai was born in 1975 in Tripoli, Libya where she lives and works. She studied Classical Music and Piano at the University of Tripoli and graduated in 1998. She is a self-taught painter who deals with the abstract, personal memories, emotions, existence and the experience of loss and departure. As a music graduate, music and melody form a significant part of her artwork.

Khuloud el Zwai, Libya

Image courtesy of artist’s Instagram

The subjects of el Zwai’s work also convey the significance of personal memories, intense emotions like sorrow, and the repercussions of sin. She uses different colour schemes and geometric patterns which brings out the musicality in her work . Her brushstrokes also reveal hidden desires and fantasies which tap into the psychological sides of life.

Given the state of conflict and war in Libya in recent years it has been difficult for artists to send their work to festivals and exhibitions because the postal system has been nonexistent. The world is not privy to a lot of the art in Libya and this is partly because for a while the arts as a commodity were forgotten in the country. The artists, however, had not stopped creating.

Image courtesy of Noon Arts Projects Oil on canvas 64.8 x 72 cm

In 2017, el Zwai was one of the Libyan artists who exhibited their art at the Sicilian Mediterranean show. The collection was titled Libya Freedom Libya: Hurriya – Contemporary Artists from Libya. It was described as a unique collection that tells the stories of people who in the dark days of despair design, create, and voice their heart and soul with courage, determination and pride. The collection was curated by Najlaa Elageli who is an art curator and founder of Noon Arts, a small private arts foundation, whose mission to bring contemporary art from the MENA region to the world stage.

khuloud_el_zwai_front.png front
Image courtesy of Imago Mundi Collection 2015 Mixed media 10 x 12 cm

In 2010 el Zwai was awarded Best Libyan Visual Artist of the Year at the Creative Artist Festival in Libya. Her artwork has been exhibited at the Libya at Dar El-Founoun, Dar El-Faqeh Hassan and at the Tripoli International Gallery in Tripoli in 2012. Elzwai has been part of a group exhibition at the Camden Gallery in London, England. Her work has also been exhibited in Egypt and Canada. el Zwai appreciates the ability to create for an audience who receive her work and interpret it subjectively because she believes it makes her one with the consumers of her art.


Lelethu Sobekwa was born in Gqeberha, South Africa. She holds a BA Honours in English and an MA in Creative Writing with distinction from Rhodes University. Lelethu currently writes for Art News Africa.

Write A Comment