DUBAI: Dubai’s Green Art Gallery just unveiled a spotlight exhibition on the surrealism-inspired Egyptian artist Samir Rafi.
Rafi, who died in Paris in 2004, began his journey into the world of art at the age of 14, when he became a student of the Egyptian watercolorist Shafiq Rizk and later went on to study with masters Mohammed Nagi and Ragheb Ayad.
He was quickly recognized for his talent and, at the tender age of 17, had his first-ever exhibition, organized by the artist and educator Hussein Youssef Amin.
By 1948, Rafi, who had just finished his bachelor’s degree in Cairo, he had solidified his place as a member of the Contemporary Art Group, which was best known for its uncensored portrayal of Egyptian society.
“The spirit of those times and the international current of surrealism defined his perspective as an artist and left an indelible mark on his life’s work,” the Green Art Gallery noted in a released statement, adding that between 1945 and 1953, Rafi’s exhibitions in Cairo made him a constant fixture of the local art community.
“In this vibrant post-WWII era of political, intellectual and cultural change, his fearless melding of a variety of local and Western influences, and his confident representation of society’s most marginalized elements, were among the qualities that allowed to him to stand out among other young Egyptian artists,” the gallery added.
The artist left Egypt to study in France in 1954 and went on to engage in rigorous experimentation with different techniques and styles, helped along by working relationships with the likes of Le Corbusier and Picasso.
Rafi’s works are on show at the Green Art Gallery in Dubai’s artsy Alserkal Avenue area until March 5 and include his distinct artistic observations of loneliness, despair and homesickness.
Perhaps best known for his trademark imagery of the female form and wolf dog, Rafi’s work almost always employs symbols extracted from his love of nature and his Egyptian childhood and that is immediately visible in the collection of work on show in Dubai.
The works on display span 50 years and showcase the artist’s mastery of lines and shade, his command of color and how he combined those techniques to create a unique surrealist world within his frames.