Tarek Montasser

Tarek Montasser

"Egyptian by birth, Muslim Jesuit by upbringing, engineer by education, adman by profession, rebel by temperament, painter by need to reconcile all the contradiction that I am."

I exist along faultlines between immense cultural tectonic plates, intersections of conflicting paradigms. Always seeking a viable synthesis, a middle ground, a middle east, a middle west, a middle north, a middle sensibility... In that way I am fundamentally Mediterranean in the classical sense of the word. This is a very precarious stance in today's world of absolute extremes.

A stance that I believe only negotiable through art in general and painting in specific: the dialectic between the brush and the surface, the gradual ambiguity of revelation, the automatism that bypasses the boundaries of consciousness, the hermetic solitude and the much-needed sense of continuity and belonging to an ancient discipline that precedes language and reason.

I guess that makes me a humanist, viewing man as the measure of all things, another truly Mediterranean conviction. I am fascinated by the relationship between man and his objects as manifestations of his self and extensions of his being. Even more so I am intrigued by man as a subject and as an object, that fascinating space between the figure and the figurine. The human phenomenon as a source of light, a reflection and first and foremost an opacity that casts a shadow.

I work in oils and acrylics at the same time, yet another paradox. I need the speed, energy, fluidity and directness of acrylics; but I also crave the chromatic subtlety, richness and depth that can only be achieved by oils. This has obvious implications on my process: all work begins with an impulsive, rapid, aggressive outburst in acrylics with larger size brushes. An almost abstract substructure priming that I then explore, elaborate , evolve through oil paint and oil bars. I feel this process builds contained tension in the work, a history of making, an archaeology of layers, a resonance, a depth, that allows it to survive the first look and to keep revealing itself to the viewer over time. At least that's what I hope to achieve.