Borrowing from the technique of coloring the cinema of the 40s, Youssef Nabil creates since 1992 a singular work that questions feelings of exile and belonging, nostalgia for a happy East and contemporary ideologies.
Youssef Nabil created his first works in Cairo, his hometown, in 1992. Using the technique of colorisation with which he became familiar near the last portraitists who practiced in Egypt in the early 90s, he projects the visitor into a fantasy world where certain icons of cinema and contemporary art: Fanny Ardant, Salma Hayek, Natasha Atlas or Tahar Rahim appear like mirages. To the shot often prepared with a written synopsis succeeds the intervention of the artist in watercolor, pastel, or oil directly on the print.
Emblem of a golden age where Egypt appears as a beacon of modernity and freedom, the cinema of the 40s and 50s symbolizes a glorious but lost past. By recreating a colorful atmosphere, Youssef Nabil infuses Orientalist stereotypes of cinema past, nostalgia and vague sensuality of memories.
Ignoring claims of identity, the work of Youssef Nabil wants to embody a “Mediterranean” world without borders, where the veil worn by Catherine Deneuve or Isabelle Huppert is no longer the subject of a current affairs debate but finds the sweetness of the Madonnas of the Renaissance. In his self-portraits, the figure of the artist wearing a white djellaba, always seen from the back, lying on the ground or standing seems to have become an almost abstract sign. A subtle dialogue is born between the photographs where the character posted in front of the pyramids or palm trees seems to belong to the decoration and the self-portraits where he embodies the stranger, witness of a multiple world embracing the numerous travels of the artist, to which he can not belong completely.
The question of exile haunts the artist who left Egypt definitively in 2003. A geographical shift also temporal for an art which, inscribed from the beginning in an outdated form, evokes the transience of life.
Mixing photographs and videos, the exhibition crosses the entire career of Youssef Nabil.
october 5, 2019 > 12 january 12, 2020
Institut du monde arabe – Tourcoing
9 rue Gabriel Péri