Moataz Nasr

Born (1961) in Alexandria, Egypt, where he lives. After studying economics, he decided to change direction and take a studio in Old Cairo. This self-taught artist gained local recognition marked by many prizes before breaking into the international art scene in 2001, notably winning the Grand Prix at the 8th International Cairo Biennial. Since then, he has participated in large international gatherings like the Venice, Seoul and Sao Paulo biennials and exhibited in prestigious contemporary art venues. Today he is considered one of the greatest representatives of pan-Arab contemporary art. Showing complex cultural processes currently underway in the Isla­mic world, his work surpasses idiosyncrasies and geographical limits and voices the worries and torments of the African continent. The feeling of belonging to a specific geopolitical and cultural context and the need to maintain a link with his homeland are key elements of the artist’s life and work. Art and life are inseparable for him. His childhood memories, frustrations and the society in which he is evolving seem to fuel his paintings, sculptures, videos and installations. His work concerns Egypt with its traditions, people, colours, without ever slipping into the exoticism or creating distance. It appears, on the contrary, close to everyone’s preoccupations. In fact, Egypt is just a background, a territory inhabited by human beings whose fragility is universal, as are indifference, powerlessness and solitude, weaknesses inherent in human nature.

 

Dancing is liberating. It can be therapeutic, or a rite of passage: a state of trance can be obtained through dance. The animal expression of our instincts. Abandoned body and rhythm. By whirling in concentric circles in which they lose themselves, cancelling out the centrifugal and centripetal forces, Sufis reach a degree of concentration which allows them to forget weight and to access mental heights; to obtain knowledge that the mind alone is not able to reach. Therefore they can, to parody Rimbaud, “see what man is unable to see”. There are three of them. A magic number which signifies perfect balance.

 

Simon Njami

Photos

Le Moulin
Le Moulin
Le Moulin

Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011 Biennale de Lyon