ArteEast is pleased to present an interview with artist Nadeen El Rashidy as part of our Artist Spotlight.
Born and raised in Egypt, Nadeen studied visual arts at the American University in Cairo, and has studied at the University of the Arts London (UAL) and the International Summer Academy of Fine Arts & Media in Venice, Italy.
AE: What has your practice/ career focused on during the past five years?
NER: My work is painting based, and lately I have been focusing my practice on solo exhibitions as well as custom work. Throughout the past five years, my style has evolved and somehow come into itself. The more I look for inspiration in places I normally wouldn’t, the more I discover what really resonates with me as an artist. My paintings have gone from totally abstract, to being described as a merge between abstraction, surrealism and Impressionism. I draw my inspiration from reality as well as fiction. I am obsessed with all things that make me ask questions and wonder, and so I try to do the same for others through my paintings, as I believe art should make us feel something we normally wouldn’t on a daily basis.
AE: How have you evolved or changed your work with the challenges and/or opportunities of the past few years in the contemporary art world in Egypt?
NER: The past couple of years have been great regarding the art scene in Cairo, and so I have used this opportunity to really step outside my comfort zone and depend solely on myself in curating my second solo exhibition, Once Upon A Dream, which took place in December, 2019, without the help of a gallery. The theme of this exhibition was centered around the innocence of children and their ability to dream without fear that their dreams will not come true. Each painting was made with the intention of creating a space for the onlooker to remember what it feels like to dream of a world where anything is possible. A space where there was no judgment or belittlement. The location I chose for the exhibition, Kodak Passageway in Downtown Cairo, as well as my decision to incorporate live music (a single saxophone), added to the whimsical atmosphere that I was trying to create. It was a success, and I realized that I not only have a love for painting, but also for curating and organizing art shows. The art scene in Cairo is really booming, with an emphasis on young and emerging artists, which is why this is the perfect time to work my hardest to pave the road that I see myself walking.
AE: What are you currently working on or considering?
NER: With this lockdown I am currently keeping myself busy with commissions, and as soon as I complete and deliver those paintings, I will begin creating my next collection, which will be inspired by the way things are at the moment, and the idea of not confusing isolation and solitude for loneliness. The focus of the paintings will be centered around the idea of the beauty found in silence and peace. The things we see only when we pay attention and really listen to not just ourselves, but to nature as well. I’m not entirely sure if an exhibition will be possible this year, so maybe I will settle for an online exhibition instead. But a new collection is definitely in the works.
AE: How, if at all, have you been making use of this time of self-isolation?
NER: Regarding art, I am currently working on a few commissions for clients, as well as brainstorming my next collection, which I plan on starting work on soon.
Regarding life, I’m trying to stay sane as I believe almost everyone is at this time. I think taking this time to really focus on our mental health and staying grounded and grateful is a key component to successfully completing any goals whether they are work, life, mental, or physical goals.
AE: Have there been any creative gains or challenges?
NER: Definitely a little of both. Being isolated can be demotivating. Sometimes it’s easy to confuse solitude for loneliness and this can get in the way of our focus and goals. So this definitely has been challenging to overcome every day, but knowing that I’m not alone in this feeling is comforting and does push me to produce. Despite this challenge, there has also been gain. Isolation has taught me to be patient with myself and my process. And this in turn has been reflected in my work as I do not rush anymore. I take my time to make sure every painting is given the time it deserves.
AE: What have you given thought to doing or creating once the global pandemic subsides?
NER: I have actually been thinking that once this is all over I’d love to do my master’s! It’s something that I’ve always seen myself doing at some point, and since this time in quarantine has taught us that we really don’t know what tomorrow will bring, I think taking chances and jumping at opportunities will be my new thing. Hopefully.
NADEEN EL RASHIDY ONLINE: