Raafat Ishak has long been concerned with the politics of transit, cross-cultural dialogue and visual exchange. The Melbourne-based, Cairo-born artist, who works across painting, sculpture, installation and site-specific drawing, makes poetic, contemplative work that addresses the past as it manifests in the present and the legacy of Modernism in an increasingly fragmented world.
Withdrawal Courtesies, Ishak’s upcoming show at Melbourne’s Sutton Gallery is concerned with the ways in which images infiltrate a cultural moment that is characterised by speed and visual saturation. The artist, who swaps canvas for MDF board, a signifier of a parallel interest in architecture, will show 10 mixed-media works that feature motifs such as the coat of arms for the Royal Australian Air Force, warplanes manufactured in Australia and neo-classical buildings built in Greece. The body of work explores, among other themes, the cyclical nature of history and the fallacy of cultural progress. It also incorporates print, tracing paper, masking tape and
an Australian Census form.
“Drawing, in this instance, [represents] the distance between revelations and statements or stating,” the artist says. “It is the repository of the processes of consideration. It is all at once bureaucratic, imaginary, disillusioned and mistaken. Yet it carries with it the potential for deliberating its outcomes.” Withdrawal Courtesies shows at Sutton Gallery from June 30 to July 28, 2018.