Raafat Ishak Apnea

22 May –
20 June 2015

Sutton Gallery is pleased to present Apnea a solo exhibition by Raafat Ishak. Apnea is loosely based on a PhD research paper which was completed in late 2014. Investigating and discussing the 1915 painting Black Square by Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935) and its relationship to Mecca’s black cube, the holy Kaaba in Saudi Arabia, the artist links both esteemed objects within a singular historical path.

Ishak states, Apnea is a collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures and a photograph generated through the ubiquitous acts of graduate research, experimentation, withdrawal, exclusion and fatigue. While still embroiled in and submitting to the canonical historical impetus of early Twentieth Century modernism and the obscene undertones of pagan desert practices, Apnea speculates on the complicity of the apathetic gesture in negotiating a troubled and grieving world.

The exhibition features 15, A4 sized paintings depicting a half black cube haphazardly occupying interim spaces within the National Gallery of Victoria: corridors, foyers, storage spaces and external courtyards. The half black cube resists and blocks light emanating from exhibition spaces. It articulates its inherent incapacity to socialise with art and hence its continuous state of flux, from one space to another, without being properly grounded or attributed a permanent display status. These will be accompanied by 40, A4 sized works on paper which collate drawings and source images drawn from a broader research into stadium architecture, Arab pagan practices and language, hot air ballooning, Malevich’s black square, twentieth century abstraction and images of crowds.

Also on exhibition is Ishak’s first video work, a one shot footage of an action that takes place in a stadium, comprising of a crowd of people standing and sitting around, flicking and passing a cubical black beach ball above their heads. The video articulates the omnipresence of the weight of history and its manifestation in the black square and twentieth century abstraction.

Raafat Ishak completed his PhD at Monash University, Melbourne in 2014 and has recently returned from a 3 month residency at the Cite Internationale des arts in Paris. He has now commenced a full
time teaching position as Lecturer – Drawing and Printmedia, at the Victorian College of the Arts. Recent exhibitions of note include: Melbourne Now, National Gallery of Victoria, 2013; Safar/Voyage, Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 2013; Terms & Conditions, Singapore Art Museum, 2013; and Alienation, Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, 2012. His works are held in prestigious local and international collections including National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, and the Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

Artist’s profile