ArtTalks is proud to present Renée, the third solo exhibition by Guirguis Lotfy at the gallery. In Renée, Guirguis honors his muse and lifetime companion. And when Guirguis is with Renée, nothing else matters.
It is not far fetched to draw the analogy that Guirguis Lotfy is to Egyptian visual arts what Salah Jahin (1930-1986) is to Egyptian poetry. Both celebrate Egypt’s cultural fabric while not shying away from its shortcomings. Tirelessly, Lotfy depicts our feasts, celebrations, rituals and traditions – some still practiced today; others long forgotten. Pharaonic, Islamic or Coptic, his stunning canvases offer a personal take on these little moments of bonding and shared history or on some trivial and mundane scenes with ordinary people.
Describing his artistic process as literally looking out his window and painting what he sees, Lotfy shows an indefatigable commitment to his muse and attempts to bring forth both her beauty and contradictions. As he captures the essence of our Egyptian-ness, he reminds us that neither religion nor ideology can tear us apart.
Don’t let yourself be fooled by the apparent simplicity and naivety of his crowded paintings! Guirguis Lotfy seeks to resuscitate an elaborate ancient Egyptian painting technique practiced two millennia ago in religious iconography and the famed Fayoum Portraits. By using bee wax or tempera colors dissolved in egg yolk with some gold leaf, Lotfy ensures the transmission of Coptic art – an identity, rather than a religion.
Together, Guirguis and Renée bring the past into today to provide answers for a better tomorrow. And like a story-teller, every detail is recollected, nostalgically pinching us in the heart as we feel the innocence and familiarity of those moments. Lovers, husbands, wives, children, carriages, donkeys, the fresca man, the porter, the fortune teller, the musician, the café, watermelons, Ramadan and Alexandria, all ‘reveal the light that comes from people, much like saints were once portrayed in ancient paintings’. All look up in the sky towards infinity, like a calm prayer and give us a cherished snapshot of the world we live in, of the country we are so attached to and of the people we belong to. For Lotfy, Renée is Egypt. She is one and many. She is yesterday, today and tomorrow. She is his most haunting and conditional muse and he intends on making them both eternal.
Born in 1955, Guirguis Lotfy lives and works in Alexandria, Egypt. After receiving a BFA from Alexandria Faculty of Fine Arts in 1980, Lotfy went on to pursue his MFA on “Coptic painting from the 4th to the 8th Century” in 1990 and his PhD on “Coptic Art and its influence on Modern Art” in 1994 from the Cairo Faculty of Fine Arts. Hamed Owais (1919-2011) and Hamed Nada (1924-1990), two of Egypt’s modern pioneer artists, were closely involved at different stages in the supervision of Guirguis Lotfy’s masters and doctorate degrees respectively.