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Over the course of more than fourty years, Lebanese-born Raouf Rifai has produced a vibrant, compelling and expressive body of work in the range of media that is widely collected and internationally exhibited. His familiar signature style features strong colors and shapes, and expressionistic human figures and faces, with semantic elements leaving it to the viewer to decipher and connect to retrieve their underlying consistency.

The Acropolis of Baalbeck-Heliopolis, the colorful splendor of the Bekaa valley, gardens overflowing with sunflowers, memories of living in harmony with oneself, others and the world, those images of a lost paradise of childhood became the emotional and intellectual paradigm which govern his perception of the contemporary world, the advance of disorder, chaos and destruction of nature, the alienation of men in both the so-called developed and developing worlds.

Rifaï’s longing to recover the original harmony in the world and in life partakes of a classic question: what about the good life – and the way to achieve it?

Often, the answer was straightforward: restore the lost balance between extreme polarities, but according to Rifai, equilibrium is what is most lacking in our lives.

Organizing urban and domestic space is not enough to satisfy the requirements of this humanist supporter of non-violence towards the natural world and its resident creatures.

The only violence he can afford is to denunciate the current state of affairs at all levels of nature and society destabilized by the steamrolling expansion of a traumatic globalization upsetting all traditions, rules and procedures that blind man to nature, man to society, and man to man.

The figure of the Darwich recurs in Rifai’s work as a symbol and icon of this lost equilibrium, along with the character’s confusion that his frozen and fetishized state of balance is a true state of equilibrium.

In the words of the artist, his “art’s main subject is Humanity. It is nourished by the history of our civilization and our heritage. My work is a mirror reflecting the reality of our Middle Eastern society’s transitions and evolution”.
Curated by: Razan Chatti