An Exploration Of Cairo-Born Artist Ahmed Farid's Hidden Identities Series

BY Diego Faa / Feb 18 2020 / 09:35 AM

A journey into Ahmed Farid's art reveals inner conflicts of identity through a subtly balanced abstraction of imagery

An Exploration Of Cairo-Born Artist Ahmed Farid's Hidden Identities Series
Image courtesy of the artist
Ahmed Farid. Hidden Identities. 2019. Mixed media on canvas.

During his entire artistic career, Cairo-born artist Ahmed Farid has always had a special connection with his homeland, Egypt. His artworks represent an environment very close to him where urban views of the Egyptian cities and beloved landscapes often stand out in detail.

On the occasion of Art D’Égypte’s third annual exhibition entitled Reimagined Narratives, Farid showcased large-scale works called Hidden Identities (2019), which are a deep declaration of love for the rich history rooted within the medieval street of al-Mu’iz. Within the texture, we can find vibrant examples of humanity and the hidden corners of a historic architecture that overlooks present times.

Ahmed Farid

Ahmed Farid at work

As always happens in Farid’s artworks, the figurative aspect does not reveal itself immediately, so the spectator needs a deeper and more attentive analysis of the pictorial surface to detect the references of identity that the artist spread – and partially hid – on the canvas ground.

By observing the artist working in his studio, we have a clear perception of how he controls the whole construction and how he constantly ensures that each element is able to create unity. These are moments of suspension in which Farid evaluates every possibility, examines every conceivable balance to be included in the art work. We have a feeling that the artist is painting because certain things do not want to be separated from him, just as he does not want to separate from them.

Ahmed Farid

Ahmed Farid. Hidden Identities. 2019. Mixed media on canvas.

It is an almost hypnotic moment when we observe Farid’s hand intervening on apparently finished canvases, while with calm determination, he makes the matter of the painting more and more sumptuous and adds new thicknesses to this terrestrial crust. They are gestural and controlled proliferations, compact masses of colour that come together and move away as if they are possessed by a musical rhythm.

The artist is taking us on a journey through time and space. The way of treating painting and matter takes him away from an extremely abstract and informal art to obtain geographies of subjects and contexts full of value and social emotion. He gives shape to the archaic images that are under the surface in constant mutation; they are ancient experiences that acquire archetypal forms, distant myths that live in the present times.

Farid seems to search through the folds of the painting a sign, a rhythm, a colour that gives back to him the imperceptible breath of the earth, the traces of a story that composes and manifests itself. The black features seem to emphasise distances and belonging and it is easy to find a stylised building, a crowded street, a hinted figure, but at second glance these features disappear as swallowed by the tide of colour, by the apparent chaos that remixes and rearranges the investigation plans.

Ahmed Farid

Ahmed Farid. Hidden Identities. 2019. Mixed media on canvas.

Trying to decipher what comes out of Ahmed Farid’s brush is almost impossible. It is our imagination that has to wander in the limited space of the canvas. His painting, moreover, is closer to a cry, to a dance and is a means of expression of our inner voices that is much more powerful than words.

Farid builds his universe with colouring areas, backgrounds and accents from one edge of the canvas to the other. His colour is a vibrating space, it is no longer an element of a surface construction made of planes or lines, but it is an unstable place in which contrasting tensions and strong timbres dominate and they trace a change taking place: a new way of expression. After all, as Willem de Kooning once said, “I have to change, to remain myself”. ahmedfaridart.com

All images courtesy of the artist


From the Winter 2019 issue of Harper's Bazaar Art