Are you ready for Chapter 4?
by Fatenn Mostafa-Kanafani
The world of the Unknown has captured the imagination of Hady Boraey for over a decade.
In his first show at the gallery in 2014, Boraey introduced us in Beyond Borders to an imaginary world of what could possibly lie beyond any border: the border of the earth, the borders of one’s land or simply, the border of one’s mind. And while the mystery of what lies beyond the borders of the universe is grand and captivating, Boraey played on the fascination and hope of many to cross the borders of their own country and go settle somewhere where the grass might look greener. For Boraey, what could lie beyond doesn’t necessarily mean more planets and stars or other forms of material, but rather, it is a symbol of the relentless pursuit of happiness and the persistence to dream of a better life. This is why his imaginary journey across the borders persists and wins. Once the border was crossed, a world of Unknown was unlocked.
In 2016, we opened Hady Boraey’s second solo exhibition at the Gallery under the title Towards the Unknown. For some of us, the ‘Unknown’ is a common word that we use in our day-to-day language. For others, it is a notion, a mental picture, a mystery, a world where they live in or that they seek to escape to. Fascinating and frightening at the same time, Boraey’s Unknown world transcends the visible, the real and the certainty of knowledge. It continued to be inhabited by men and women, predominantly idle and staring in different directions, in search of their free self. Torn between the wilderness and the shadow, you could find his colorful protagonists waiting at the gate or the border, under a grey cloud or summer rain. The silence of the city awakens these migrants. As they carried the weight of the Unknown, they madly wandered, carrying their dreams, holding stones, and wearing amulets. And far away from home, they had a story to tell. Once upon a time, they navigated and got lost.
In Hope is a Traveller that opened at ArtTalks in 2018, we met Boraey’s protagonists for the third time. Only then, they were dressed in white, and the prevailing colorful world witnessed before in Beyond Borders and Towards the Unknown, had disappeared, and was replaced by a more monochromatic palette of greys and blues. The birds and the various cats and dogs were also there, with new strange creatures or companions.
As we open the fourth chapter of Hady Boraey’s exploration of the Unknown, we are invited into Heaven’s Backyard. His travelers may or may not have reached their final destination yet, but they are all there in full force, vibrant and full of hope. It is as though they have discovered a new horizon, or maybe even heaven, led by a path that has brightened up and allowed them to see beyond what truly exists. The struggle between reality and the ‘grass is greener out there, between truth and illusion, between the permanent and the fleeting, takes hold of that moment, as Boraey connects it all, in that mysterious backyard. Fear and anxiety are replaced by liberation and magic, as we witness them sitting on a hammock, riding their bike, or wandering on a boat, looking up towards the sky, the stars, or the divine.
For a decade now, the exploration of the Unknown has been a spiritual language and a highly personal enterprise for Hady Boraey. It is his attempt to explore the inner desires, to seek a new life, to open that magic door from which the border of the earth and the horizon merge or disappear forever. Thus far, there is silence and comfort. Long gone is the unkind and teasing past. Where once there was an uneasy and restless world, there is now a liberating dream. By testing the limits of the mind, Boraey stands steadfast, facing that vertigo, unafraid of the blank page, pushed by an uncontrollable craving to conquer the world and destroy the void. As a new era dawns on us, Heaven’s Backyard becomes overwhelmingly meaningful/profound and wanting. It takes over. It exhilarates. It liberates.
After his highly acclaimed three solos, ArtTalks is proud to present Chapter 4 of the Alexandria-based visual artist Hady Boraey. Born in Beheira in 1984, Boraey holds a Ph.D. (2015), an MFA (2011), and a BFA (2005) from the Faculty of Fine Arts, the University of Alexandria. He participated in over forty group exhibitions in Egypt, Italy, the UK, Switzerland, and the UAE, and received the medal of appreciation from the Bibliotheca Alexandria, as well as various awards, amongst which one from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Alexandria.