Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania to a Lebanese-American family, Helen Khal (1923 – 2009) started painting when she was struck down with an illness at the age of 21, which forced her to rest at home. In 1946, she studied at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts in Lebanon and moved there permanently from 1963. Today, she is remembered and admired for her incredible coloured shapes, mostly inspired by her Mediterranean surroundings, that created wonderfully balanced and attractive compositions.
Khal established the country’s first art gallery, named Gallery One, and played a key role in the development of the art scene and art movements in Lebanon, teaching art at the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese American University in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
Her work was widely exhibited in Beirut from the early 1960s and also featured in shows abroad, at the Alexandria and São Paulo ‘biennales’, the First National Bank, Allentown, Pennsylvania (1969) and the Bolivar Gallery in Kingston, Jamaica (1975), among others.
In addition, she gained a reputation as an esteemed art critic and writer who was published extensively, with one of her most popular publications titled ‘The Woman Artist in Lebanon’.