16 April to 07 May 2013
Alexandria-based artist Guirguis Lotfy will have his first solo show this month at ArtTalks | Egypt after over a decade of seclusion.
Born in 1955, Guirguis Lotfy lives and works in Alexandria, Egypt. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Alexandria Faculty of Fine Arts in 1980, Lotfy went on to receive a diploma in 1986 , then a Masters Degree on “Coptic Painting from the 4th to the 8th Century” in 1990. Finally in 1994, he was awarded a PhD on “Coptic Art and its influence on Modern Art” from the Cairo Faculty of Fine Arts. Hamed Owais (1919-2011) and Hamed Nada (1924-1990), two of Egypt’s pivotal modern pioneer artists, were closely involved at different stages in the supervision of Lotfy’s masters and doctorate degrees respectively. Guirguis Lotfy befriended them until their deaths.
Possessing an unparalleled wealth of knowledge on Egyptian Coptic art thanks to his extensive studies, Guirguis Lotfy embarked on a voyage to resuscitate that part of Egypt’s glorious past, with the aim of passing that knowledge along to future generations, a testament of his passion and pride about his multi-cultural heritage. His deliberate choice in using long forgotten elaborate and rich painting techniques such as wax or tempera colors dissolved in egg yolk and gold leaf on treated wood is reminiscent of religious iconography and the famed Fayoum Portraits. This has undoubtedly enabled him to carve a distinct place in Egyptian contemporary art.
His upbringing in a populous neighborhood in Alexandria, that still believes in magic and folkloric legends, became his primary source of inspiration. He has described his artistic process as literally looking out his window and painting what he sees. The apparent simplicity and naivety of his paintings depicting every day mundane scenes captures the spirit, authenticity and religious tolerance of the average Egyptian man in the street and reflects sincerity, insight and a deep reverence for the diversity of the Egyptian culture. This thematic choice combined with the use of elaborate old forgotten painting techniques from the Coptic era can be seen as a symbol for a collective cultural identity.
Guirguis Lotfy truly brings the past into today to provide answers for a better tomorrow.
“The paintings are quite a sight – beautiful and mysterious depictions of everyday events that are weighed down by an incredible sadness.” Mariam Hamdy