It’s kind of frustrating that in a country like Egypt, one finds incredible difficulty to scout young talented artists. It is most certainly not the case that there isn’t enough talent, but there isn’t perseverance attached to it. As a gallery owner or dealer, it’s not unusual to meet an artist who has a few solid pieces that display both skill and originality, attempt to nurture this artist so that eventually they would show in your space, and then spend the rest of your life chasing after them to produce work (see here my article on the latest Tache exhibit presenting 47 young new artists. The labels on some the pieces are 2008. 2008! What have you been doing for the last three years?). A combination of laziness, inconsistency and, more often than not, the allure of high paying seemingly creative jobs like Advertising, make it difficult for an artist to send enough time to produce work and continue to hone their skills.
An artist who appears to be consistently trying to break through all the above is Mohamed Moftah. An exceptional graphic designer, Moftah is an even better painter whose work trickles through our art scene oh so rarely, but with such punch and intensity that makes them unforgettable. Put simply: His paintings are awesome. Predominantly portraiture, Moftah approaches the subject matter as one would a fog: with a sensibility of not knowing exactly what one will find on the other end. His faces seep through abstracted settings with an uncanny realism, and despite a bright palette and barely restrained brushstrokes, there is always a sombre sense to all his pieces. They appear a lot more mature than they intend to be, as though they’ve seen more than they were supposed to. He also paints hands- a very, very difficult body part to paint, believe me- with the astute observational skill of an orthopedist meets carpenter. Always a tad stiffer than they should be, as though they’re made of wood, the hands in Moftah’s paintings are portraits in and of themselves.
To say that I’m looking forward to his first solo show- no mention of that yet unfortunately- is a grave understatement. If his first solo exhibition would host work like what can be seen on his sadly un-updated website (www.mohamad-moftah.com) or his current piece at Tache (Shown above with the Fish), or his pieces currently show at the Palace of Arts Youth Salon Exhibition (Shown above as well), then it would be a sure sold out hit.