Bilal Chahal was born in Lebanon and lived for several years on the Caribbean island of Aruba. As a migrant, navigating between different cultures, his works navigate the difficult terrain between a personal history and the decentred experience of the diaspora; Identity and human communication are at the center of his work. In it he addresses the question of affection, belonging and identity from different perspectives, producing his work in a rich spectrum of techniques and materials. Since his first paintings, which began with the question of materiality, color and abstraction, his current installations, sculptures and paintings involve other social issues that include the tension of personal affection and submission or emotional abuse, or the language that characterizes individual traits associated with prototypical dichotomies. His works maintain a balance between conceptual play with language, form and color.
Recent projects undertaken between 2019 and 2023 include the ongoing installation called 'STOER' (2022), meaning 'hard', which reflects on gender and identity. The word sculptures, painted in bright pink, are displayed in public space where they serve to humorously underline opposing messages, thus generating awareness of different social affiliations.
Since his residence in China, Chahal developed an interest in ceramics, which has been the material support of various installations. The 2021 project titled 'Emotional Abuse' which was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art of Bogotá (MAMBO), draws attention to mental health problems caused by imbalances in personal closeness and addresses the common problem of abusive or manipulative language in personal exchanges. The work calls for an understanding of individuality, boundaries, recognition and awareness.
Other works include 'Abacus - Variations on a Theme' a work that by its nature recalls the passage of time, as well as the work of counting, determining changes in quantity, quantity or simply the meditative counting of beads so present in many cultures.
The artist, who joined the Raft in 2017, is a dedicated professional whose research has led him to produce continuously and in rich directions. His work has grown thematically and conceptually, incorporating new and interesting ideas and materials into his previous, mostly abstract work.
In 2018, when we opened our gallery in Medellín, we chose to exhibit his work in collaboration with composer Adriana Restrepo. The result, titled '20/20K Hertz', was an innovative and vigorous presentation that incorporated painting, music, performance and sculpture.