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Karim Abd Elmalak: Quenching a Drought in Beauty

From paintings to installations, Egyptian multimedia artists Karim Abd Elmalak opens up to May Mansour about his inspiration, his love for women and the endless uses for gold leaf...

Karim Abd Elmalak is an established Egyptian multimedia Artist with a sentimental and dramatic feel to his intricate artworks, creating remarkable and captivating paintings and illustrations of women and depictions of vintage Egypt, as well as working on innovative installations for several purposes. Clearly not one to affiliate with classism or prejudice, Abd Elmalak is a lover of beauty and creates artworks for all walks of life to comprehend and appreciate. Here, he speaks of his inspirations and convictions as an artist.

How long have you been an artist?

I studied Fine Arts for five years, had two exhibitions held back when I was a student and I graduated in 2003. From that point onwards I got into applied arts as well.

What colours or techniques do you use to create your paintings?

Mixed media is my game and i gravitate to materials with rich textures, like gold leaf. I believe it is important that the artist’s character is demonstrated or portrayed through the techniques they use, much like in singing, and mine are quite dramatic in nature.

Are there any specific materials that inspire your installations?

Nothing specific, no, but I constantly aim to enforce a remarkable artistic perspective over my work even if it’s for commercial purposes as is the case with my Bits and Pieces installation where I created a shisha out of tires for hookah café in Heliopolis. Regardless, it’s meant to create an identity for the space where it’s being showcased, and not only serve as a direct commercial piece.

You do several types of artwork from painting to illustration and installations. Which is your favourite form of expression and why?

I find it interesting that it’s all part of the same discipline of applied arts; each technique nonetheless expresses and fulfills a purpose that is part of who I am, but if I have to choose I’d say I’m more inclined to making paintings above all else.

What are your inspirations derived from?

My inspirations are mainly derived from women and old Egypt.

Speaking of women, there are a lot of female faces in your artwork; do you have a particular muse?

Not at all, the idea is the woman, as a human being simply; el set asl el kon, she gave birth to mankind, every man on earth exists because of the female womb, she is the male’s backbone from the moment he's born until he’s a mature man. She bears more responsibility over men in society and on top of actively taking part in society, she carries children, educates, supports and heals...

What do you do apart from being an artist? Do you work or have any other hobbies or interests?

I’m into sports, and I make a habit of going to the gym on a daily basis. I believe it’s important to equally cultivate the physical as well as the spiritual side of being an artist; the mind and body complement each other always.

What is your objective as an artist?

Every exhibition integrates a different theme and a different message, but my art primarily focuses on the aspect of beauty; our society is contaminated with filth and spite, there’s too much garbage on our streets. Egyptians have had enough of it all, and my role as an artist is to dust off all the reality-stricken filth off our streets with specks of beauty to appreciate. We’re thirsty for beauty! I also like to leave a question mark behind in my paintings, to let people wonder; one of the best things about art is leave a portion of it for people to analyse according to their own perspective. It's a language open for all classes of society; no racism or fascism in my works. Art is a global language generally, it reaches into everyone’s minds somehow.

Is your artwork available on display at any exhibitions in Egypt?

I have an exhibition at Safarkhan gallery in Zamalek starting in February, 2016 and on for three weeks

You can check out Karim Abd Elmalak's artwork here or follow him on Instagram @Karimabdelmalak