FEATURE: LENA KASSICIEH. PHOTOGRAPHY: AL-MUKHTAR ZAYAD
Fayez Barakat is a morning person. I often wake suddenly in the middle of the night with a concept to paint I feel most of my masterpieces are created in early mornings, he says. The renowned antiquities dealer and gallery owner-turned-artist has always been drawn to the world of art and creation, having experienced priceless interactions with artists like Chagall and Picasso in the 1960s, but he only lately began releasing his own paintings to the public.
Born and raised in Jerusalem, Fayezs family owned a massive collection of antiquities, ranging from Pre-Colombian masks and ancient Roman pottery to Egyptian jewellery. Their antiques business originally began when Fayezs grandfather Fayad Barakat excavated Roman dishes from the family vineyards in Hebron. Fayez affectionately dedicated years of his life to becoming a scholar of antiques, and mastered the ins and outs of the market, from coin-collecting to chronicling and protecting a collection for storage and public viewing. His extensive gallery in London is full of delicate antiques from Maya crystal skulls to mogul stationary. However, after expanding his antique galleries to Beverly Hills, California and Dubai, Fayez became eager to share some of the artwork he had been creating for years behind the scenes. For
Antiques dealer-turned-painter Fayez Barakat tells us about the meditational powers of art, his Palestinian roots and what it
means to make abstract art in 2014.
The artist standing in his
Zara Centre exhibition
Acrylic abstraction with a rainbow of colours on a large
Bright red stands as a background for this energetic piece
One of Ibi s models posing powerfully in traditional attire
FAYEZS LATEST PAINTINGS SHARE
THE VITALITY OF SPIRIT,
PROPINQUITY AND REFLECTION
the past 60 years, he has painted in the privacy of his home studio and only a handful of museums and fellow artists have seen his work. Now, for the first time, he is exhibiting his work in Jordan at Zara Centre on Wadi Saqra.
This new collection of work, which takes up 2,500 sqm of Zara Centre and has been tastefully remodelled to display artwork, is a composite of everything Fayez has done in the past. Some of his large paintings also adorn the floors above the gallery in the centre, creating an atmosphere of inspiration within the shopping centre. Throughout the exhibition hang descriptions of Fayezs work, and quotes about his work and philosophy, as well as images of him hard at work experimenting with different techniques in his studio. Though most artists stick to just a few methods, Fayez is a firm believer in testing ones limits and developing new styles to express oneself.
The rotating collection of around 100 pieces of Fayezs work will hopefully serve as a model standard for an art exhibition which is free of charge. He plans on organising events for schools to come and tour the art, and coordinating programmes for the children to create their own art work on the floor in the open space. Fayez believes that the Middle East could hugely benefit from more exposure to art, and hopes that steps like these will make that more possible. By exposing children to art, I hope that we can pique their interests in the arts and get them involved. I would like it so that art becomes less of a luxury and more of a necessity here in Jordan, he says.
THE ECSTASY I FEEL AFTER THE COMPLETION OF EACH ARTWORK IS THE BASIS OF A NEW CREATION AND A PROCESS OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH
The abundant selection of styles and methods employed by Fayez testify to his desire to experiment in all schools of art. He rebuffs the notion that an artist should find one medium and stick to it, and experiments with oil, acrylic, gold paint and myriad pictorial substances. Fayez has stated that gestural abstraction is a more direct way for him to express how he feels, and this allows him to release inner anxieties, worries and stresses. Fayez thoughtfully expresses his passion, saying: It is my opinion that feelings, sensations, thoughts, expectations and dreams are frequencies that respond to colours, shapes and forms that are embedded in our subconscious minds. When I paint, I try to share my experiences through this vibration of colours. The discipline of my distribution of memories is reflected in my paintings. It is my hope that my paintings will enhance the aesthetic frequencies of the viewers to a higher level of their present consciousness,
enabling them to see the beauty of their genetic impression in the abstract forms and shapes created. The ecstasy I feel after the completion of each artwork is the basis of a new creation and a process of spiritual growth to share this journey with my viewers is my ultimate joy in the brief experience we call life.
Fayezs latest paintings share the vitality of spirit, propinquity and reflection, while combining the elation of existence with a feeling of infinity. Its as if his paintings confront the viewers, engaging them on their own visual journey. The compounded energy of his techniques is tempered with abstract concepts of reality, nirvana and dreams. Fayez often paints like other artists sketch, freely and vigorously over large canvases, moving as the flow of ideas moves through him, adding: Painting allows me to engage with bigger issues than myself. Though he is busy managing three major galleries around the globe, he always finds time to
paint and express his ever-evolving set of inspirations.
Contemporary art programme director of Sothebys Institute of Art in London Anthony Downey commented on Fayezs work, saying: It is difficult to avoid pareidolia, the psychological phenomenon whereby a viewer recognises shapes in abstract patterns. Besides the sheer feeling of joy that characterises his Golden Euphoria Fantasy (2011), we could be tempted to see it as a country fete, or a young woman in blue dresses dancing in sunburnt wheat fields. Paradise Fantasy (2011), with its golden leaves and ponds, could depict the Garden of Eden. The vibrant batik-like impressions in Burkina Fantasy (2010) seem inspired by the country the piece borrows its title from. Although Barakat does not systematically correlate his paintings with their titles, he often uses them as hints to direct the viewers towards what there is to see in my work.
Ibi posing with friends in traditional Yemeni attire
Fayez as he creates his work in the studio of his home