EGYPTIAN ARTIST HANA AFIFI SHARES HER “KEYS TO GROWING UP”

Hana Afifi, The Light at The End Of The Tunnel, 2021-2022. Oil on canvas,155 x 105 cm

Cairo-based artist and sculptor Hana Afifi welcomed guests into her home and workspace for her most recent, solo exhibition, Keys to Growing Up. An emotional narrative, spanning the past two years, and reflecting the artist’s thought process, curiosities and understanding of the world around her. The choice of venue; a calculated decision to heighten the multi-sensorial experience of viewing art, allowed visitors to physically engage with the artist within her private space.

Hana Afifi, Keys to Growing Up, exhibition view
Hana Afifi, Keys to Growing Up, exhibition view

The pieces were thus given an additional layer to consider and appreciate, the ‘where’, an element not often presented to the audience. Through the windows of her sixth story apartment overlooking the Nile, the guests were treated to the exact same view as the artist, one that played an impactful role in her spiritual and psychological evolvement, and eventual emancipation. Self-describing her psyche, as “keeping my soul in a bottle for the past few years”, the artist’s process of unlocking that bottle is physically manifested in her art; through her subjects, painting techniques and finished work.

Hana Afifi, Group Hug, 2020. Mixed media on canvas, 145 x 184 cm
Hana Afifi, Group Hug, 2020. Mixed media on canvas, 145 x 184 cm

Since the beginning of time, artists have pondered ways to visually relay emotion through their art; through subjects, colours, brush strokes, precision and chaos on the canvas. For the self-taught Hana Afifi, the language is that of familiarity; the commonality of stuffed toys and cartoon characters. Known to us all, yet perceived in highly personal and therefore unique ways by each and every one of us, Hana Afifi’s exhibition is at once a deeply intimate yet collective celebration of our childhood memories.

“My art allows me to surrender to me emotions and my mind.”
~Hana Afifi

On show were over 42 oil on canvas paintings in addition to 12 sculptures. As we stroll through the open spaces, corridors, nooks and crannies of her home, teddy bears arrest us with feelings long forgotten. As we turn a corner, a larger than life Mickey Mouse greets us with memories and ensuing emotions. For Hana Afifi, and perhaps many of us, the courage to explore our inner beings is strengthened by the presence of our childhood securities. The comforts that provide a safe space to start to unearth the reasons for the feelings that we have, and the ways we view life.

Hana Afifi, The Grass is Greener, 2020. Mixed media on canvas, 60 x 40 cm.
Hana Afifi, The Grass is Greener, 2020. Mixed media on canvas, 60 x 40 cm.

“Through my art I have found a universal language, these characters from our collective childhoods represent feelings and emotions that we all understand and appreciate. In ‘Keys to Growing Up’ I have created a dialogue with my audience that I believe we can all relate to, and derive from, our very own personal stories.” ~Hana Afifi

Hana Afifi, Close Your Eyes and Open Your Mind, 2021 - 2022. Oil on canvas, 120 x 160 cm
Hana Afifi, Close Your Eyes and Open Your Mind, 2021 – 2022. Oil on canvas, 120 x 160 cm

In her artist statement, Afifi shared that during her months-long, self-imposed isolation she wondered if her army of protective teddy bears would have a place in her journey once this phase of searching was complete. The answer of course was a resounding ‘yes’. As Afifi walks us through the exhibition, she draws out attention to the ways in which her art itself has evolved as a response to her process of self-discovery. Where she once layered thick strokes of paint, she now prefers a gentle, exacting and precise technique. In place of the faces she once drew, devoid of emotion and absent of eye-contact, she is now able to paint emotion in her characters, and when in doubt these faces are replaced by her loyal subjects, the bears. Hana describes her past inability to create backdrops to her subjects, now her work is filled with colorful fields of sunflowers, tranquil expanses of nature in vibrant hues.

Hana Afifi, You Had Me at Milkshake, 2020. Mixed media on canvas, 153 x 153 cm
Hana Afifi, You Had Me at Milkshake, 2020. Mixed media on canvas, 153 x 153 cm

The advent of COVID has left us all changed, we have all in our own ways questioned and reassessed our relationships with life. Having emerged personally triumphant from her process, Hana Afifi has earnestly put her vulnerability, her trials and tribulations on show for all to see, to consider and to learn from. The Keys to Growing Up, may just be the keys we needed to unlock a few of our own unanswered questions, perhaps…

Hana Afifi, The Collector, 2020. Mixed media on canvas, 59 x 59 cm.
Hana Afifi, The Collector, 2020. Mixed media on canvas, 59 x 59 cm.
Hana Afifi, Treasure Chest, 2020. Mixed media on canvas, 70 x 65 cm
Hana Afifi, Treasure Chest, 2020. Mixed media on canvas, 70 x 65 cm

Images courtesy of Mariana Wehbe

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

selections-arts-logo

SELECTIONS is a platform for the arts, focusing on the Arab World.

Selections editorial presents a quarterly print magazine and weekly online publication with high quality content on all subjects related to Art and Culture. Full of world-leading artworks, exquisite brand imagery, original creative illustrations and insightful written articles.
Selections Viewing Rooms presents carefully curated online art shows aiming not only to shed light on contemporary art executed by living artists, but also for viewers to buy contemporary fine art, prints & multiples, photography, street art and collectibles.
Discover the previous and current shows here.
Cultural Narratives foundation is an extensive collection that is travelling the world by leading established and emerging talents aiming to reflect the culture of the region in their works.

RANDOM READS
Installation view of the exhibition Imperfect Chronology: Mapping the Contemporary I, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2016. Curated by Dr. Omar Kholeif. Photograph by Stephen White. Image courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah.

MAJOR MODERN ARAB EXHIBITIONS 2012 – 2022 | BARJEEL ART FOUNDATION COLLECTION IMPERFECT CHRONOLOGY: ARAB ART FROM THE MODERN TO THE CONTEMPORARY AT THE WHITECHAPEL GALLERY, LONDON

Barjeel Art Foundation Collection Imperfect Chronology: Arab Art from the…

Mahmood Aldaoud, The Flow of Stillness, 2022. Image courtesy of the artist

A SERIES OF DIVERSE EXHIBITIONS BY REGIONAL EMERGING ARTISTS AT THE NYUAD ART GALLERY

The NYUAD Art Gallery’s Project Space Reopens With a Series…

Beirut and Lebanon. 19th century photographs century, presented by the Semitic Museum of Harvard University House of the Future, Naccache and Archaeological Museum of AUB – American University of Beirut, May 15 – 30, 1983

CATALOGUE D’AFFICHES D’EXPOSITIONS 1975-1990

Expo d’expos 1975-1990, curated by Gregory Buchakjian showed a collection…

Installation view of Khaleej Modern: Pioneers and Collectives in the Arabian Peninsula. “Early Pioneers” and “The Landscape” sections. Photo: John Varghese

KHALEEJ MODERN | PIONEERS AND COLLECTIVES IN THE ARABIAN PENINSULA

Exhibition of Rare Works from Key GCC Institutions Chronicles Nearly…

Hayv Kahraman, The Interpreter, 2016, oil on wood in two parts

‘FIRST LOOK’ AT CONTEMPORARY MIDDLE EASTERN ART SALE HIGHLIGHTS AT CHRISTIE’S DIFC

FIRST EXHIBITION CURATED BY NEW MANAGEMENT Ridha Moumni, Deputy Chairman,…

Marwan Kassab-Bachi, Extract from Correspondence with Abdel Rahman Munif, 1990 - 2004. Watercolour on Paper. Courtesy of the artist.

MAJOR MODERN ARAB EXHIBITIONS 2012 – 2022 | CORRESPONDENCES, ABDEL RAHMAN MUNIF, MARWAN KASSAB-BACHI

Correspondences Abdel Rahman Munif, Marwan Kassab-Bachi Location: At BIEL, Beirut,…

october 2022

05marAll Day09octFAHD BURKI | DAYDREAMS

25aug(aug 25)18:0007jan(jan 7)21:00ANIA SOLIMAN | TERRAFORM

28augAll Day27novLA COMMEDIA UMANA | MEMENTO MORI