Raafat Ishak

Informed by an interest in Arabic and Western art histories, Raafat Ishak’s work explores the intersection of cultures and visual forms. Ishak’s carefully abstracted compositions convey familiar contemporary symbols and urban spaces in ways that reveal the peculiarities of social and political contexts.

With a background in architecture and fine arts, Ishak uses a nuanced approach linked to his own experience with emigration. Raised in Cairo until the age of 14, Ishak immigrated to Australia in 1982 and completed his education in Melbourne. The work Responses To An Immigration Request From One-Hundred and Ninety-Four Governments, (2006-2009) is a testament to the artist’s aesthetic, formal and conceptual research.

Ishak sent standardised letters requesting citizenship to a majority of the world’s recognised governments. On 194 individual panels, he depicts the replies he received as well as the non-responses. A stylised national flag adorns each panel and the response is superimposed in abbreviated, decorative Arabic text. Painted on MDF boards, an engineered wood product often used as cheap building material, the series references modernist formal language through the use of the oval and the square and the fluidity Arabic calligraphy.

Ishak lives in Melbourne and exhibits on an international scale.