While many contemporary artists make social and political statements through their artwork, my grandfather is unique in that his most poignant and striking message is conveyed through his ethos; to have been offered fame and fortune but to have turned it down; to have painted all day and every day but to have resisted showing or selling his work. He paints for himself- because he has to- and nobody else, and while other artists may profess such integrity, few have the conviction to put that into practice. My grandfather doesn’t even name nor date his work- to him this would be pointless. A chronology of titles serve only the curiosity of an outside observer, and he has simply never entertained the possibility of there ever being one.
My grandfather is an ardent proponent of art being led by the artist- not by the consumer or critic, and with no affiliation to a gallery nor obligation to satisfy the whims and trends of popular opinion, he has been permitted the freedom to explore his artistic creativity. Beholden to none but his own standard and preference, he would sooner leave or destroy a painting than rush it to completion or compromise his vision. His estimate is that he has destroyed around 500 of his paintings to date, much to the dismay of his family. Indeed, few of his paintings are said to be complete- with progress deemed relative and fractional- and those which are must withstand constant re-evaluation if they are to find themselves decorating the walls.
His ethos, draftsmanship and idiosyncratic palette culminate in an extremely distinctive body of work that is instantly recognisable. Tasteful, delicate and noticeably inspired by his Egyptian heritage; his abstract figures embody artistic self-expression in its purest form; unaffected by the pressures to trend, conform or monetize.
Despite the onset of illness, he is still ordering greater quantities of ever-larger canvasses- custom-made to specifications he might someday need. Faced with his own mortality, and with no intention of hastening production, he is unlikely to finish the canvasses already started, let alone the additional ones he has ordered. At its crudest level this is perhaps a manifestation of denial, but beyond that it is also a gesture of ambivalence; of one who is so absorbed within their artistic bubble that they spare little or no thought for what lies beyond. His thoughts are preoccupied with the past and the present. The future will unfold from one moment to the next, but it will not be compensated for or anticipated. Art is everything in his life, and in purchasing more paints and equipment that he could ever need or use, it is clear to me that there is no life beyond his work.