18 October 2007 - 11 November 2007

Raafat Ishak


    Raafat Ishak's works broil with multitudinous ideas. To say that he has a restless intellect would be an understatement but he balances his political and social investigations with a sleek and beautifully muted graphic aesthetic.

    Born in Cairo in 1967, Ishak is highly conscious of his status as an outsider in this predominantly Anglo-Celtic nation and his work veers dramatically from socio-political content to pure poetry. He arrived in Australia in 1982 and rapidly became involved in Melbourne's alternative gallery spaces.

    His semi-figurative work has embraced a cornucopia of subjects, ranging from references to his past in Egypt through his fascination with sport with both its grace and attendant violence. Ishak's interest in stadium architecture in particular, and sport in general, stems from a frustration, real or imagined, with the tendency to superficially manufacture social structures.

    "Stadium architecture has developed from a set of conglomerate structures, representing a chronological order of development that is deeply entwined with tribal traditions and histories into a rental mass," he says. "Whilst the economic rationale of maximizing attendances and concentrating the direction of devotion is unfortunately, but miserably logical, the audience is enticed to exude rather than absorb, and hence, devotion is reduced to self."

    The other central images in his new work revolve around the subjects of ships and dolphins. A 3D work depicting a staircase on a plinth is a far more personal work, a reference to 1982, the year he arrived in Melbourne and "wished to climb the mountain of assimilation."

    "Basically, the ship, the stadium and dolphin paintings are the focus of the show, as much as they may be about criticism, politics, or even logic in general, they are essentially exercises towards formal values and aesthetics that I'm relying on to perhaps instigate other issues that are normally outside of my control. The inspiration for the way I work is essentially ‘beauty' and the various sources that generate its coming into being, such as the female body, nature, good architecture and so on."

Ashley Crawford
Australian Art Collector
Issues 41
July - September 2007

Artist's profile

View artist profile: Raafat Ishak


Artwork from exhibition by Raafat Ishak

Secession Valley, 2007