“For once, this is about going within,” says Fares Rizk, the Palestinian, Jordanian, Egyptian and American painter. “I was born in Cairo and raised in Cairo, Jordan and Lebanon. I always knew this duality was part of what influenced my paintings, and it is what has always helped me move among different cultures.” The artist’s goal is to improve the position of Middle Easterners throughout the world, and in NYC in particular. “I am simultaneously of the East and of the West. I want to use my unique position to open a dialogue through my art.”
Rizk’s time in various countries ensured that the rich colors and unique openness of the sky would be an undercurrent of his style: from the beginning, it was inevitable that he would paint the natural landscape. Originally working in a more traditional fashion, he was inspired by - and produced works - in the 19c style: still life paintings, portraits, and of course, landscapes. Bonnard and Matisse are still a source of inspiration, but now David Hockney and Anselm Kiefer’s styles are also apparent. “I wanted to explore the texture of the canvas and the many textures and layers of New York. I went within, as opposed to carefully scrutinizing the outside world as I usually do.”
As a result, the subject of the new paintings is dessert, and the canvases are lush with silky texture combined with bold strokes- almost as if they had been painted with cream. The dessert theme is foremost in Rizk’s mind these days. He was struck with a combination of anxiety and desire. “New York is a city of desire. We are in constant state of wanting …We want beautiful apartments, we want delicious food and drink, we want sex . But a lot of what New Yorkers want, they cannot have. That is precisely my relationship with dessert. So I thought, ‘If I can’t have it, I’ll paint it!”
The change in direction was a result of long periods of introspection while taking tireless walks throughout New York City. “I am very sensitive to the pulse of the universe. It’s not just the events of the Arab Spring that obviously resonate with me. Dictators are vanishing; natural disasters are more prevalent; right now it feels as if there is no safety in the entire world. Despite all the unrest and upheaval, New York is the city that inspires me the most. It is here that I merge East and West most easily.”
“I would like to embody the different aspects of my art. I want people to see what signifies me, my thoughts, my dreams, my highest wishes. Although I am classically trained, I want to be living the moment. I live in NYC downtown and I want to express my feelings visually right now, in this moment, it is no longer about the flowers in a vase, or the portraits, or the pretty landscapes. Right now I feel it is about change, upheaval, uncertainty, and the lack of security.”
ABOUT FARES RIZK:
Born in Cairo in 1961, he begins painting at age 10. Educated in Cairo, Beirut and Amman. In 1986 receives BFA in Painting from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, where he studied with Elemore Morgan ,William Moreland and Herman Mhyre. In addition, he holds an MFA in Painting from Parsons School of Design in New York City where he studied with Leland Bell, Paul Resika, Robert De Niro, Sr. and Larry Rivers.
He is also the recipient of Helena Rubenstein Scholarship.
Rizk is represented By Wadi Finan Gallery in Amman, Jordan, and by the Chrysalis Gallery in Southampton, NY. He counts Patricia Field (The Stylist of Sex and the City & The Devil Wears Prada), Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, The Royal Family of Jordan, and the Sadat Family of Egypt among his collectors. He lives and works in downtown New York City.