Home > Paintings, Revolution > Moving Forward By The Day: My First Solo Exhibit in the UAE

Moving Forward By The Day: My First Solo Exhibit in the UAE

My first solo exhibition in the United Arab Emirates, Moving Forward By The Day, opens at Meem Gallery in Dubai on 17 March and continues until 2 May.

Tomb Sonata in Three Military Movements I, 7.5 x 2m, 2012 is due to show at "Moving Forward By The Day" at Meem Gallery in Dubai this month.

Tomb Sonata in Three Military Movements I, 7.5 x 2m, 2012 is due to show at “Moving Forward By The Day” at Meem Gallery in Dubai this month.

In Moving Forward By the Day I’m revisiting my life-long interest in the complex nature of the Egyptian identity, showing a mix of nine painting works and eight drawings, including some earlier painted works. I created many of these works as an act of protest. Two years on from the revolution, I have abandoned my active role as a citizen and gone back into my studio as a form of defiance. What I am fighting against, what I am resisting in my work, is a public discourse that seeks to unify and impose a single truth or ideology upon the rich and diverse reality of Egyptian identity.

Adding final touches to one of my favourite pieces: Code of Femina, 5 x 2m, 2013

Adding final touches to one of my favourite pieces: Code of Femina, 5 x 2m, 2013

Code of Femina 5 x 2m, 2013

Code of Femina, 5 x 2m, 2013

My paintings in Moving Forward By The Day return to the iconography I’ve used in my earlier works: fashion models and body builders that I’ve collated from glossy magazines and intertwined with symbols of Ancient Egypt to create hybrid divinities worshipped in our contemporary society obsessed with the body. In my work, I adopt the laws of ancient Egyptian painting in these works, using flat, graphic surfaces and kinetic human and animal forms to tell a story. The stories I tell are stories of power, as signified by the idealized forms of body builders and of mythology, what I call humanity’s tendency to seek salvation from overarching powers – whether a Batman, an Anubis, or even a president.

The figure of Hathor is transformed from a simple pictogram of the ancient Egyptian cow goddess into a signifier of the material, sensual manifestation of the divine feminine. An indirect reference to Egypt, the cow goddess stands strong on my canvases, embodying a particular space that is bountiful, tolerant and nurturing to those who inhabit it. Around her, figures move across the surface of the canvas in a procession of flight – an escape, migration or forcible change from one identity to another.

The Procession II, 1.2 x 0.8 m, 2012

The Procession II, 1.2 x 0.8 m, 2012

For decades, I’ve pursued my interest in the complex effects, on citizens, of their turbulent regional context, exploring my ‘Big Mac’ theory across my work. Situated at crossroads of the Mediterranean, Egypt has long been a confluence of African, Middle Eastern, Ancient Egyptian and Arab-Islamic influence. You cannot isolate any single strand, in the same way that the flavour of a Big Mac sandwich is not quite the same without the meat, lettuce or the seasoning. Unlike earlier works, however, I’m tackling the subject of identity with a new intensity, expressed in bright, even fluorescent colour, in the intensity of the brushstrokes and my use of black strokes.

Moving Forward by the Day II, 2.5 x 2m, 2013

Moving Forward by the Day II, 2.5 x 2m, 2013

Drifting across the surface of my canvases are floating signifiers: composite angels culled from fashion magazines, that appear in the upper most register of the works and denote that which is sacred or divine. I’m invoking the weightlessness that represents our current stage of confusion, or lack of grounding in ideology and faith. It’s a weightlessness of people waiting for someone to come and solve their issues without having to exert any effort themselves.

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