Mohamed Abouelnaga: Creativity in a Time of Crisis
During the pandemic I have spent time writing down my thoughts as they have come into my mind. To stave off loneliness I have spent more time thinking about love and things I miss – my wife, my daughter, nature, my family alive and not with us anymore. My painting has been erratic but I have turned within to explore my culture and my memories more deeply. All have mixed together in a sort of surreal dream and I have expressed these feelings through art.
I want to document the details of my memories, places I have lived, colors I have seen, sights and sounds I have experienced. During Ramadan I am reminded of the smell of my mother’s fresh bread, fried Qatif and the smell of honey. How beautiful the house was!
As time stretches on and I witness the chaos in the world and the collapse of order, I have reflected on what has happened from within the walls of my own house. I have expanded that analogy to encompass walls in general, from the sanctuary of my own home and the stories I have experienced, to the old walls and buildings of my culture – the pyramids, temples and even the hajj. My travels around the world have come flooding back to me and I am journeying within on an inner hajj.
Mohamed Abouelnaga is a multidisciplinary visual artist, art professor, curator and developer with a colorful and interesting career. Born in the Egyptian city of Tanta, he graduated with honors from the Faculty of Fine Art and obtained a PhD in Philosophy of Art from Alexandria University. He was the first Middle Eastern artist to receive a grant from the Japan Foundation to study the arts of papermaking.
He has held solo exhibitions in premiere galleries around the Middle East and throughout the world, in the mediums of painting, artist books, video and installation, and he has won numerous prestigious awards, including representing Egypt at the Venice Biennale. He has also curated noted art initiatives such as the 25th Alexandria Biennale for Mediterranean Countries and the Sharjah Children Art Biennale. In addition, he uses his multidisciplinary skills in the social development field, such as with youngsters with disabilities.