‘ My Family Motto is “Ne tentes aut perficie”. Alternatively: “Don’t attempt anything that you can’t lead to perfection”. It was pretty daunting at first but I’ve grown to accept and admire it as I’ve aged.’
– Edward Akrout
In the fall of 2013, Edward Akrout was left immobilised due to a back injury, his severely reduced mobility and regular bouts of physical pain meant that Akrout’s creative output ran the risk of ceasing completely. However; his gradual reintroduction to New York City, walking the streets for exercise to speed up his recovery, allowed him to see this great city, and the individuals inhabiting it, with a new and inspiring energy that he made the subject of his visual work.
This raw and almost ravenous appreciation, a celebration of life, translates through each and every one of his compositions; scenes filled with erratic and impulsive patterns of light, semi-realised figures and abstract dissection of angles come together to convey the overwhelming deluge of sensory information on the mind of a man integrating himself back into society step by step while at the same time being fascinated by it. The visual narrative that these pieces build as a series cover all ends of the spectrum in both their tone and feel but overall and as a series they depict a journey from life changing injury to a state of physical and mental rebirth.
When confronted with pieces like Akrout’s Toxic Expectations, a piece described as ‘the artist’s pursuit for intellectual antonym, free from all external intoxication’ it’s very easy to feel like an ‘outsider looking in.’ But in doing so it perfectly conveys Akrout’s introspective analysis of how he feels towards his reintegration into one of the world’s busiest, most densely populated cities.
The execution of this piece; composed of incredibly bright colours, full, energetic mark making techniques while peppered here and there with sparse and startlingly minimalistic areas of white, help to build a loose portrait that speaks loudly of Akrout’s struggle to resist the crowds and retain his identity as a creative individual amidst a population so diverse and influential simply by the comings and goings of their daily routine.
In leaving out any distinct characters or objects but alluding to a subtle portraiture composition he allows for almost total audience interpretation and puts us right there with him. Above all though; a sense of fear is delivered. It comes through in a very honest, almost primitive manner that’s both excited and horrified at the same time but the fear of loosing one’s self amidst the hustle and bustle, becoming just another number, is visceral in it’s reality.
At the other end of Akrout’s artistic spectrum, but always clearly linked in style and aesthetic, you’ll find pieces like Easy Dreams, a complete juxtaposition to Toxic Expectations and one that seems almost childishly serene in both it’s medium and message.
The subject of this piece is the pleasant mental haze witnessed by those that find themselves completely at peace with their current position within the grand scheme of things and/or the daily flow of life.
This, as we all know, can often be a fleeting frame of mind but one that Akrout seems to have hung on to, captured, bottled and distilled perfectly through the pastel shades of sky blue and warm yellow ochre. The overall tone becomes one of juvenile innocence which subsequently stirs a feeling of great nostalgia in the viewer, leading them back to a time when the feeling, that they’re now seeing captured so vividly, was a daily occurrence as opposed to a fleeting frame of mind. It’s the kind of work that suggests a complete ease with life and the world that the artist is travelling through but the subtle red marks flashing across the composition, underneath the brighter swaths of colour, suggest a knowing that the feeling perhaps can’t last.
Given the nature of Akrout’s incident, and his gradual recovery, you have to wonder whether the dream like haze portrayed here is really created out of a simple love of life or whether it originates from the mental haze that can often arise from medical recuperation, the drug induced fog that often makes recovery that much easier for those suffering.
The message received of course depends on the viewer and the imprint they make on the work upon viewing, how they mingle and muddle themselves with the concepts on display but that is a trait common throughout all of Akrout’s work. His utilisation of line work, his placement of sparse areas of nothingness, his expert choice of colour and medium – they all allow for total viewer immersion and that is why Akrout’s work is so special; the audience acts as the final piece of every composition he creates and they, by interacting and relating to each piece, become a receiver for Akrout’s very human, very raw narrative.
To see more of his works please click here.