In his series of paintings entitled Beyond the Limits, Fayez Barakat redefines the language of the pictorial surface, employing an impressive range of techniques and mediums to generate new meanings and aesthetic possibilities. The works embody the artist’s personal visions and feelings whilst simultaneously liberating space for the viewer to articulate their own emotionally-charged responses. Through this process, each work carries a unique message which is decided by both the artist and the viewer; the vibrant colours, expressionistic brushstrokes and explosive shapes invite readings in terms of subjectivity and raw emotion, encouraging the viewer to rise subconsciously to a higher meditative level.

The series reflects an association with the likes of Umberto Boccioni, Gerhard Richter, and Jackson Pollock, but rather than merely replicating these styles, Barakat develops aspects of them by taking the techniques of these great masters to a new dimension. Barakat is therefore driven to reach beyond his own limits, making visible on the canvas the touch of an artist whose unique technical ability is far beyond what has previously been achieved. As Barakat puts it, “There is nothing new under the sun...we as artists continuously learn from one another. What I aim to do in my art is to explore the techniques of artists I favour and extend their school of practice to a higher artistic position.” It is difficult to tell the exact combination of tools Barakat uses to create such powerful effects and this ambiguity of technique means that every space of the canvas holds a new discovery. The fusion of the colours and allowing them to drip so organically is arguably an art form all in itself.

Within such a varied series, Barakat manages to create immensely individualistic pieces. In some works a constellation of fiery reds, yellows and oranges seem to explode in volcanic forms, in others a mix of blues and greens mimic water flowing from river to river, whilst some display empty areas of pure canvas beneath the tangled mix of colours, providing a sense of air in which the viewer can pause. Simultaneously intertwined and unified in their abstraction, slashes of paint shoot upwards and melt back down the canvas, creating a climactic moment simulating a volcanic eruption before the colours settle. The upward motion of paint is representative of the artist’s developing thoughts, feelings and ideas as he creates, whereas the spaces in which the paint descends and rests, usually in the middle or bottom of the canvas, is where the viewer is meant to enter a process of discovery. Such a combination of simplicity and complexity brings about a realisation of harmony. A freedom of expression and unbridled energy is combined with a sense of bliss and peace, located in the spaces where the colours seem to settle.

The emphasis placed on landscapes of nature by great Asian poets, philosophers and thinkers served as a source of inspiration for Barakat when creating this series. Some of the larger paintings seem to suggest a composite of different landscapes, both of the human psyche and of compositional elements which could be consumed as individual works when viewed up close. This level of minute and absolute detail and, more importantly, the way all of the microscopic elements fuse together, is rare to find in paintings by other artists.

The smaller works are just as encapsulating and powerful as the larger canvases, with each piece in the series showcasing a technical and aesthetic sophistication. The process of reading these works becomes two-fold - each canvas is to be consumed in its entirety as a unified creation, but also as a story of many different parts which are drawn together, each compositional element symbolising a unique feeling, emotion, sensation, memory or dream.

The synergy and dynamism of these works possess a transcendental quality which offers a form of escapism when the viewer enters into a visual dialogue with the paintings. The textural quality of built up layers of paint, combined with open spaces of white canvas, promotes a desire to touch the works and feel the different physical levels of the handled surface, engaging all the senses. Each colour is supposed to represent a different vibrational frequency which resonates subliminally within the human body. Barakat’s careful colour combination enables the viewer to reach an optimal level of peace by encouraging each individual to grow out of the limits of their own personality. As the concept of peace is highly individualistic, Barakat structures the colour and movement of his paint to focus on centralising the heart chakra where everything settles within us as human beings. The colours and movement of the paint, as the pigments play across the surface in a dance, engage the viewer in a mental, physical and spiritual journey, where their own limits are exceeded. When the mind of the viewer reaches the centre of each of the works, you feel a sense of security and serenity as you discover the essence of your own inner beauty.

By Katie Beeton

Researcher and Writer, Barakat London

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