As one of Arts-Mart's 'Artists of Tomorrow', 28-year old Mohamed Rabie has caught the attention of those in the know, producing technicolour scenes of Egypt's rich rural life.
Over in what we’ve decided to dub the Artists’ District of Haram City, in a sun-drenched corner of an oh-so-bohemian studio, playing with a fluffy Persian cut stands Mohamed Rabie – a name you should get to know now. As one of Arts-Mart’s ‘Artists of Tomorrow’ – one of seven set to come together in a brilliant group exhibition come January 30th – his is one of the most talked about collections in the Egyptian art’s scene of late. A little birdie from the team at Arts-Mart even tells us he’s poised to sell out.
A faculty of fine arts graduate, 28-year old Rabie has certainly gotten off to a good start, with several exhibitions under his belt since finishing his degree. However, like many, he explains that there are some drawbacks in the education system in Egypt. “I felt like I was held back,” he begins. “I only started doing what I wanted after I finished school as there wasn’t much freedom.” After being released from the shackles of formal education, Rabie went on to study and exhibit at some of the country’s premier names in art, as well as being invited to participate in exhibitions around the region, most notably in Saudi Arabia. “I struggled a bit at first,” he admits, however. “People thought I couldn’t draw when they saw my work!”
With perhaps the largest collection in the Artists of Tomorrow exhibition, there’s certainly no doubt about Rabie’s talent now. Clearly and unabashedly inspired by everyday Egyptian life, a kaleidoscope of colours and a clear focus on texture define his work. A Menya-native, rural living is a clear inspiration, and the stories he paints are immediately recognisible to anyone who’s ventured out of Cairo’s ever-expanding borders; vibrant traditional galabeyas meet technicolour farm animals. In fact, the only character more prevalent than wildlife in his works is the Egyptian woman. “I see her everywhere,” he explains about his artistic obsession with the female form. “In the streets, at work, in cafes… women draw my eye – I don’t know why, but I see her everywhere.”
Indeed, Rabie seems to convey an omnipresence in his work – his protagonists could be anywhere in Egypt, and also everywhere, all at once. He himself also likes to put himself in every scenario imaginable, gathering little tid bits of visual data wherever he goes, making his art work understandable, enjoyable and ultimately, relatable, despite his highly stylised approach. “I’m greatly affected by the environment around me,” he offers as an explanation. “I go to the train station a lot, and people watch. So when I’m painting a scene, it’s something I know, something I’ve experienced.”
The collaborative environment which working with Arts-Mart for the past few years has afforded him has not been without its influence too. “Working with different artists gives me more confidence,” says Rabie with honesty. “Experiencing others’ processes and looking at work I wouldn’t usually be drawn to has certainly affected me. In the beginning, I used to look only at work that I like. But that isn’t good, you have to look at everything and learn from everything you see.”
Find out more about Arts-Mart the Gallery here.
Photography by Mahmoud Asfour.