January 12, 2022
March 12, 2022
Lebanese artist Elie Rizkallah takes us on two parallel adventures: He lets the buildings he paints speak of their history, sometimes carrying scars of armed fighting and destruction as reminders of the Lebanese civil war. He also cites their strength to withstand and carry their significance into a different future. On another note, in the same paintings, he draws us towards an imaginary city, one in which calm and clear lines dominate a peaceful and balanced landscape of urban architecture, leaving behind the often enough harsh and chaotic reality.
Rizkallah tells us that architecture is art, not only mere functionality. His buildings are sculptures, personalities and spiritual energy.
For Elie Rizkallah, painting houses is not about sketching photo-realistic reproductions of architecture: Utilizing the expert eye of a trained architect, he communicates the core values of modernist constructions through his artwork, and with it, artistically defends the buildings against the threat of decay, confronting the human capability to create “beautiful things” with a different tendency, which may be to neglect what is not of seemingly immediate use.
With this show in Lisbon, Rizkallah exhibits his trademark perspective on buildings: A sharp, architectural angle evokes the impression of realistic representation, the reduction of shapes, materials and colours performs an abstraction underlining the minimalist, functional and socio-politically revolutionary and perhaps utopian philosophical core of modernism, while the buildings are sculpted out of organic surroundings, more of a mere indication rather than representation, hinting at transition, creating a surrealistic interspace; there but not really there.
Rizkallah catches the dualism of modernist architecture oscillating between longevity and impermanence. While buildings exist in flux due to environmental and socio-cultural change, the, at the given time for modernist structures always high-tech, long-lasting materials, and the given architectural philosophy, aiming at building a sustainable future for a humane society, create this particular tension.