As an archaeologist, an art historian, and a renowned collector/dealer of art from all corners of the world, Fayez Barakat has always been interested in ethnography, particularly in the cultures of the Amazon, and their use of feather-work as ritual decorations. Fascinated by the colors and structure of feathered headpieces from Brazil, his latest series, Homage to Brazil, aesthetically reveals the intrinsic beauty of feather-work through paint. According to the artist, “all art is in some way inspired by nature and there is no beauty greater than the beauty of the feathered bird species native to Brazil and to the Amazon.” Looking at these paintings, one is transcended to another realm of consciousness and to another part of the world through the composition of bright colors, shapes, and forms.

The series exhibits a range of techniques, showcasing Barakat’s versatility as an artist. Whilst some paintings take on a more figurative approach, with feather-like forms placed boldly against a rich background, other works exhibit Barakat’s signature abstract style with coalescing swirls of paint dancing across the surface and pointillist dots of colors adding to the energy. Some works display a lattice-pattern of multicolored lines combined with feather shapes executed with such precision so as to show the lined-detailing in each small feather form. Set against layered backgrounds of different colored paints, these textural works utilize an abstract expressionist style but to new ends – they pay tribute to the energy and beauty of Brazil and to the feathered headpieces of tribal chiefs. New colors are continuously discovered, as flickers of paint emerge amidst the different forms which cover each canvas, eliciting a sense of movement and vibrancy, as if the forms are feathers in motion. The rhythm of patterned colors seems to take flight and take hold of the human imagination. In some pieces, forms which simulate the beauty and structural quality of feathers are painted in bright colors and simply set against a plain bold background so that each pigment stands out fully. Barakat has claimed that he found it challenging to re-create the aesthetics of such unique natural forms, but the artist’s technique of subtly blending the contrasting colors used in certain areas of the canvas adds a softness to the appearance of forms which is suggestive in places of the textural quality of real feathers.

As a celebration of the aesthetic beauty of Amazonian feather-work, this series pays tribute to the country of Brazil and the impressive feathered garments exhibited by Amazonian tribe leaders. The beautiful combination of dynamic lines, dots and larger areas of paint create a composite of color on each canvas, which are so seamlessly unified and attentively structured, that each piece reflects the magnificence of feathered headpieces and the bold colours of Brazil.

By Katie Beeton

Barakat Gallery, London