Disgraced Dealer Debuts Original Work After 18 Months in Jail for Selling Forgeries

Only time will tell if he succeeds in gaining art world redemption.

Rizvan Rahman, Feet. Photo: Rizvan Rahman.
Rizvan Rahman, Feet. Photo: Rizvan Rahman.

Few forgers survive the ramifications of getting caught red-handed, but one is attempting a unique re-entry into the art world’s good graces.

On the heels of the closely-followed Knoedler forgery trial (a case that just reached a partial settlement, but continues in court this week), dealer Rizvan Rahman, who went to jail for selling forged paintings, has mounted an exhibition of his own original paintings.

In 2011, Rahman was convicted for the fraudulent sale of work purportedly by Mary Fedden, among other artists. His estimated profits from the scam totaled well over £60,000.

In an in-depth interview with the Independent, Rahman revealed that 18 months in prison yielded him time to make work of his own. “I painted in my cell,” he told the publication. “There were times I would paint until four in the morning. I was allowed to get on with it. It was escapism; it occupied my time and brain.”

Rizvan Rahman, <em>Liz</em>. Photo: Rizvan Rahman.

Rizvan Rahman, Liz.
Photo: Rizvan Rahman.

His paintings of portraits and female nudes bear stylistic affinities to the thick, flesh-heavy works of Jenny Saville, Simon Birch, and Lucian Freud—Rahman even cited the latter as a major influence, adding that “beyond Freud, I look more at Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Velasquez, and Rubens.”

Rahman, who is hoping for a fresh start, told the Creators Project that he “hope[s] that there are people within the art world who are forward thinking and will judge [him] on the work rather than…[his] history.”

The show, titled “Point of Departure,” is currently on view at Rahman’s eponymous gallery in West London’s exclusive Mayfair district.

“Rizvan Rahman: Point of Departure” is on view at Rizvan Rahman Gallery, London, February 4–17, 2016.


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