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How Egypt is Becoming the Creative Hub of the Arab World

Youssef Maghraby Takes a Stand for Art

A gorgeous series of photos by Swedish photographer Karla Fantol had us intrigued by the art and style of young Egyptian calligrapher Youssef Maghraby; a 20-year old striving to change the landscape of Egyptian art...

Art innovation has to be nurtured to see a real development in the Egyptian scene. Youssef Maghraby, a young creative calligrapher, sheds light on a major flaw in the industry that is crippling innovation: “We always copy, why can’t we come up with our own art schools that reflect our identity? It seems that we copy everything from the West, especially with modern art,” He is talented and he could have easily made the big bucks, but he simply refused to do art to appease an audience. “In university what were learning was a joke, I felt like we were just being fed information."

Maghraby’s work is truly unique to his identity, encompassing his love of modern art and calligraphy combined; “I love lines and I do what I love, people didn’t understand what I do so I wasn’t accepted in the art community.” This gorgeous series of photos shot by Swedish photographer Karla Fantol begin to scratch the surface of a character and a artistic style we imagine we'll be seeing much more of in the future.

Shunned by uniform art intellectuals Maghraby was close to giving up in his mind it was a shame that there were no Arabs who pioneered new art styles, “they didn’t understand my work, I could have easily just made things that sold because of this unconvinced art community where galleries wouldn’t take my work but suddenly I found that people who were not intellectuals just normal people appreciating my work, I get that they are not the likely people who will purchase my work”.

Mahgraby’s main mission is that the local art community stop importing styles and come up with their own, “there are so many others like me and I am convinced that we will soon be the majority. It is sad to see us copy even street art which negates the whole idea of independent artists who ought to push for new styles,” he explains.

The young artist vows that he will continue to push for art innovation staying true to his love for lines convinced that those who stay true to their styles will be the future community art leaders.

Photos courtesy of Karla Fantol