Moataz Nasr, Merge and Emerge, video 2011.

Moataz Nasr's Pictures and Observations from a Life in Cairo

Moataz Nasr, Cairo Walk, 2006, 72 Prints, 40 x 40 cm each.

Moataz Nasr, Light Over Shadows 1, 2012, 86 x 86 cm.

Moataz Nasr, Light Over Shadows 2, 2012, 86 cm diameter.

Moataz Nasr, Light Over Shadows 3, 2012, 86 x 86 cm.

Moataz Nasr, El Thaher wa El baten (The Manifest and the Unmanifest), Love, 2010, 170 x 170 cm.


Lawrie Shabibi
Al Serkal Avenue, unit 21, Al Quoz
+ 971 (0)4 346 9906
Moataz Nasr – Collision
October 21, 2012-January 10, 2013

In Collision, a solo exhibition by Moataz Nasr. Nasr’s work engages with the urban surroundings of his native Egypt and translates his observations into a universal language to express human despair and suffering, love and hope. Egypt today faces unprecedented social and political challenges, navigating between the baggage of its past and its desire to move onto a better future. A complex and multi-faceted character, Nasr transmits his concerns of social justice, activism and spirituality, through his engagement with the ordinary people in Cairo and by drawing on traditional forms of cultural expression, including calligraphy, embroidery and Sufi poetry, to explore the relationship of the past to the present.

Using video, installation and sculpture, this exhibition invites the viewer to look within and to mediate on the various strands that make up life in contemporary Cairo and question how, and at what level of consciousness, are we able to transcend the past in order to navigate the present.

El-Thaher wa El-baten (The Manifest and the Un-manifest), a series of three calligraphic wall hangings, spelling "Love," "Beauty," and "Compassion" bring together two art forms central to the Arab world- the high art of traditional Arabic calligraphy and the popular art of patchwork tapestry making- the works themselves are produced in the “Khayameya” (“Tent-Maker”) district.

Oxymoron and Khayameya are works which incorporate matchsticks arranged respectively as calligraphic lions which guard the outside of palaces and the geometric designs typically used by the Cairo Tent Makers on their patchwork tapestries. Viewed close to, the arrangement of the matchsticks resembles a mass of people, and like people, individually they are weak, but at the same time hold the power of fire. The arrangement of the matchsticks in these traditional patterns appears unfocussed, reflecting Nasr’s sense of the situation in the Middle East.

Light over Shadows, a series of painted calligraphic works on translucent parchment incorporates numinous Arabic phrases within borders taken from the Chinese decorative lexicon.

The video Merge and Emerge shows three Sufi dancers, each in a separate field, viewed from above. The dancers eventually break through into each others’ fields, coming together yet not colliding, through which Nasr symbolically conveys the civil unrest and spirituality of Egypt in equilibrium and unity.

Cairo Walk is a montage of 72 images selected from thousands taken by Moataz Nasr during years of expeditions on foot around Cairo, conceived as a unsolvable crossword puzzle with similar images grouped together.

Elshaab (The People) consists of 25 painted ceramic figures representing the diversity of Egyptian society. Among them is a group of three riot police dragging a female protester along the floor.

Moataz Nasr is a multi-media artist and cultural activist who employs painting, sculpture, photography and video to explore the fragility and complexity of current social, economic and political conditions. Born in Alexandria in 1961, and currently living in Cairo, Nasr has established himself as one of the leading Egyptian artists of his generation. His solo exhibitions include at Galleria Continua, Beijing 2012, and San Gimignano, Italy in 2006 and 2008; Selma Feriani Gallery, London, 2011; Khalid Shoman Foundation (Darat al Funun), Amman, Jordan, 2006; and at Townhouse Gallery, Cairo in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004. Nasr has also participated in a number of international exhibitions including the Venice Biennale, Italy, 2003, Pompidou Centre, Paris, 2005, Hayward Gallery, London, 2005 and Mori Art Museum, Tokyo 2006 and 2012. Nasr is the recipient of numerous awards including the Grand Prize at the Cairo Biennale, 2001. In 2008 he founded Darb 1718, a non-profit centre for contemporary art and culture located in the Fustat area of Old Cairo, which seeks to encourage experimentation by supporting new works by emerging artists.

Moataz Nasr, El Thaher wa El baten (The Manifest and the Unmanifest), Beauty, 2010, 170 x 170 cm.

Moataz Nasr, El Thaher wa El baten (The Manifest and the Unmanifest), Compassion, 2010, 170 x 170 cm

Moataz Nasr, Khayameya, 2012, 100 x 100cm.

Moataz Nasr, Elshaab, 2012, 25 characters, 27 x 6 x 10 each.