Conor Sheils meets Hanan Ghanem - the latest artist to take part in Alchemy's on-going art programme - and finds out more about the passion that drives this woman to paint passionate women...
Meet the Egyptian art warrior fighting for women’s rights in Egypt through her hard-hitting paintings. Hanan Ghanem is fiercely independent, feisty and she is not about to take any shit. Sitting in the comfy confines of Dokki's Alchemy, Ghanem make no bones about the content of her latest exhibition, as this month’s featured artist in the restaurant and bar’s rotating artist residency programme, coinciding with the popular There’s Something Bloody About Mary Saturday brunch.
“The exhibition is all about women I'm trying to express the emotions of women, how they feel and what they go through in life. I'm trying to send a message to people that women are strong and beautiful - I want to tell women that they must keep going despite the difficulties they often face,” says Ghanem with conviction. She speaks with a refreshing mix of vibrancy, passion and a genuine commitment to her ideals when she speaks about how she first began painting women.
"It began here because of the revolution. I saw the women in Tahrir - it was very strange for me to see so many strong women I couldn't go with them so I thought, what can I do to help or at least represent their struggle?” she explains. And her inspiration? "All of my paintings are about a character in my life real or imagined. I remember movie characters or a woman on the street."
Ghanem doesn't hold back when speaking about the difficulties she faces both as a female and an artist in Egypt. “It's very hard to be a woman here in Egypt You need to be a strong woman to survive. You can't walk in the street without being hassled. It's terrible,” she laments. "In terms of being an artist - it is really tough to find a platform to showcase your work. This is what makes the space here at Alchemy so special," she says with a warm smile.
But what next for the gregarious painter? "Who knows what will happen next, but for now I will just carry on doing what I love and telling stories of ordinary women and their everyday lives."