Abstraction was a beginning and an end to the journey of the artist Toufic Abdul-Al. During the sixties, he painted many abstract works. During the eighties, after Abdul-Al went deep into inner layers of the self that was formed in exile. Firstly, the nostalgic memory of Palestinian landscape, then the philosophy of women’s symbolic roles which widened into the depiction of homeland, exile, identity, land, motherhood, fertility and passion. Then holding on to the visual presence of woman, he began to herald revolution and defeat, the broken peace and the wounded fighter. At last, was the finale that opens up to the universal reconciliation with identity, with existence and all of its challenges. It seems that the artist, in the first half of the eighties, was aware that he is about to pull down the curtain on his artistic career, leaving a collection of his work from this period to join his abstract collection of the sixties – forming all together the Sufi holistic aspect of his career.
Abdul-Al concludes his artistic career with a style that is closer to impressionist abstraction. An abstract style indicates the mystery, ambiguity and paradoxes of life. It also resembles the searched knowledge and wisdom that is only accessible through the portal of life. His “Running Towards the Light” can be described as a visual autobiography of the artist and an abstract representation of his journey, starting from the memory of the blue in Acre, navigating through crisis after crisis, with steps going towards salvation, enlightenment and knowledge. In 1990, after Abdul-Al lost his eyesight, he re-painted his “Going Towards the Light” using the knife technique. While the blue disappeared, the traveller continued his journey, transcending places and identities, rushing towards the light, towards a universal blue, a blue unseen except through the eyes of the heart.