Everyday Beauty with Rafik Greiss
Rafik Greiss doesn’t really consider himself a creative person. “I’m more… practical in the way I work,” he says, stood in the sparse white exhibition space of Galerie Balice Hertling, an unmarked door down a cobbled street in the Marais. “I don’t like manipulating reality too much. I like taking objects from the outside world, and showing them in a different way.”
Born in Ireland and raised in Cairo, with stints in London, New York and now Paris along the way, the young artist’s output is a tactile and subtle reflection on modern living and getting on amongst the stress and swell of a metropolis, a combination of photography and sculpture. His work has been shown in the Louvre and various galleries worldwide.
“I reconstructed a train station in a gallery recently,” he says. “I remember sitting on a train seat when I first moved to Paris. It was warm, which is kind of gross, but it was something to think about. A memory of the person who was here before me. The way we hold a subway pole, and how we are so close together. There’s a strange intimacy to it, which I wanted to recreate in the controlled setting of a gallery space.”
As a child, Greiss’ mother took him out on the streets of Cairo to bear witness to the uprising happening around them, a visceral experience that has stayed with him. “You’re exposed to a lot at a young age,” he says, “the world not being necessarily fair. It’s kind of shaped everything I do as an artist.”
Greiss has recently returned from a residency in Tbilisi, Georgia. A city with a burgeoning art and music scene. “I feel like I need to be away to do my best work,” he says. “When I’m in one place for too long, it feels like my eyes adjust. I miss things."
“Right now, I’m leaning towards sculpture more in my practice. Creating objects from real life experience… you just need to know where to look.”