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If you can experience the work of Wichita artist Wil Fathi, do it.

Sixty-four-year-old painter and printmaker Wil Fathi is a genius. You quickly realize this when he speaks, and again when you see his work—if you are lucky enough to see it. Wil works quietly and in a low-key manner. His last showing was pre-covid, and he has no plans for a future show at this time. He has been working on several watercolors that have taken two years to near completion. On breaks from these works he makes ink drawings that are masses of careful, calculated lines. He tells me that any picture carries a tragedy, yet provides a document for what makes us human. His work comes from within pockets of silence.

He comes to us from Tehran, Iran, where at 13 he was taught the art of mixing pigments by a Russian expatriate who painted portraits in the city bazaar. He left Iran during the revolution after the fall of the Shah and lived and schooled in Hamburg, Germany. He then immigrated to America and Wichita. He currently teaches painting and drawing, art appreciation, and art history at Southwestern College, Butler, and City Arts. He creates in his home studio as well as his kitchen. His father was a connoisseur of art and a buyer of fine furniture, rugs, and sculptural objects. His ideas of color come from the mosques and fine homes he grew up around in Iran. He is married to jewelry maker and teacher Kathy Fathi.

I’m telling you about him because he is rare. And he’s here in Wichita, one of the finest artists we have. Prolifically creating work and educating our students.

I hope one day that you will experience his great work.

Curt Clonts is a Wichita-born artist who volunteers as KMUW's art reviewer. When Curt isn’t working in his College Hill studio he is usually spending time with his wife, kids, and grandkids. He also spends the spring and summer months kayaking and camping.