In the canvases of Wassef Boutros-Ghali, a sea of Aegean inspired blue is dotted with black sails. Colors informed by a knowledge of unrelenting sunlight flood the flat plane of the canvas. Architectural forms emerge, collide and reengineer themselves without a narrative in dazzling abstract compositions. With subjects based on mythology, on nuanced observations of daily life or stories conjured with the simplicity of dreams, Boutros-Ghali’s artwork speaks to the pure and unrestricted physicality of painting.
Born in Cairo to a family of statesmen and politicians, Wassef Boutros-Ghali was drawn to the arts at an early age. As a teenager he demonstrated great natural skill as a draftsman. He joined the studio of Jaro Hilbert, a classically trained painter and inspirational teacher. Boutros-Ghali set aside the political legacy of his family and devote himself to a career in architecture, and then turned to painting. Boutros-Ghali served as a technical consultant for the environment and urbanism with the United Nations and executed buildings in Egypt, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Sudan, in addition to growing his commitment to his artwork.
Though oil on canvas was initially the artist’s preferred medium, political revolution and a necessary relocation in 1963 interrupted the evolution of his work as well as his choice of materials. Without the luxury of space and with a limited access to painting supplies, Boutros-Ghali produced a series of china ink drawings. The limitations of this new medium provided the artist a tremendous refuge. His experiments veered from abstract to surrealist to constructivist. The free-flowing aspect of the work from this period continues to inform later works and drawing remains a passion.
Untitled, 2002 Acrylic on canvas 46 x 38 inches
Untitled, 2015 Acrylic on canvas 38 x 38 inches
Untitled, 2011 Acrylic on canvas 46 x 38 inches