The human dimension has always been the pivotal force driving the artistic vision of Rabab Nemr. When viewing this artist's works, it is often difficult to distinguish between the male and female figures despite the fact that the latter pre-dominate in these depictions. Regardless of this ambivalence, however, both male and female figures embody Nemr's concept of human quintessence.
A host of nautical elements - fishermen and their boats... various sea creatures... seagulls - are ingrained in the heart and mind of Nemr, who grew up in Al Anfooshy, inhabiting the world of this artist, against the backdrop of the sea, now treacherous and roiling, now calm and bounteous.
In the midst of such a vibrant setting, it is the human persona in this artist's works, whether in black and white or in colour, that shoulders the burden of human cares. We can see this in the way the subjects' eyes gaze into the distance towards the mysterious horizon, the meeting point of sea and sky, where the unknown lies hidden, an enigmatic, unseeing gaze characteristic of Ancient Egyptian sculptures. We sense in these works a metaphysical tinge enveloped by a warmly romantic, dream-like aura.
Early on, the works of Rabab Nemr envisioned the need, even the demand, for some kind of revolutionary action. Filling these pictures were human images, a veritable swarm standing united, reminiscent of those in the main squares of the Revolution. Even before the Revolution actually broke out, this phenomenon was observed by art critics who recognized it as the catalyst to the revolution against human oppression. During this phase, colour abdicated its ascendancy, allowing black and white to take center stage as the medium of revolutionary expression, intensifying and transforming the soundless gaze featured in the works into vociferous cries resonating through the very fabric of the picture. The crowding and cohesion of human beings urged a mass fusion against injustice, an assertion of one's right to a dignified life enacted during the January 25 and June 3 popular uprisings.
These revolutionary movements were embraced and glorified by women, whose presence in the Revolution added a dynamic new force, radiating a kind of energy, and a sense of hope for Egypt's future, so much so that the whole country was alight with optimism; truly, women emerged as iconic figures in the revolutionary movement.
It is in tribute to the special contributions of Egypt's women that Rabab Nemr is exhibiting this collection today.
Rabab Nemr employs signature techniques in putting together an artistic work. Utilizing clearly defined components and with man as the centerpiece, the artist begins her composition by assembling a skeleton group of close-knit elements on the canvas. She demonstrates mastery in creating abstract constructions whose elements are dictated by organic cohesion calculated in the distribution of space... shadow and light... black and white... colour... all of which are executed with balanced precision culminating in a picture in the form of a tightly constructed abstract symphony. Breaks in the music and definition of space in abstract art become a dynamic and compelling element reinforcing the compositional content.
Having satisfactorily completed the actual design, the artist commences a painstaking process which I believe to be unparalleled by other artists. As commonly known, the dimensions of Nemr's pictures cover an extremely large expanse in proportion to the technical detail expended. The artist is greatly skilled and precise in complex executions using a Rapidograph pen of a nib size of 1 to 2 at the most.
From the perspective of our shared lives as artists, I cannot help but notice, when utilizing this pen, how utterly engrossed this artist is by her canvas, the way her fingers grasp the pen, which in her hands seems transformed into a chisel wielded by a sculptor working with granite. Actually, she is in a sense sculpting her elements onto paper in such a state of absorption that she seems to merge with her pencil and canvas, poring over it for long hours each day, tirelessly and single-mindedly, almost in a kind of rapture.
Once the distribution of black and white spacing is complete in relation to shadow and light, the picture emerges in its complete state as a composition built on the interplay between black and white. It could, as a matter of fact, be displayed right then, from my point of view as an observer of each artistic stage. To the artist, however, the picture in its black and white state is merely a phase in the process...
The next stage involves laying colour over the black and white surface, as if she had initially intended to base the entire construction on the value of colour. The final outcome is one of either the dominance of colour over the whole picture, or a fusion of colour with black and white.
As far as Rabab Nemr is concerned, pictorial composition rests on intense awareness of two basic artistic elements: one that is compatible with modernity and its emphasis on science - as evidenced by the architectural and mathematical installations emerging from the scientific application of its theories in Cubist innovations in the early 20th century; and another spiritual and expressive state that is seen in the eyes of the human figures in Nemr's works. Her paintings affirm this intellectual and spiritual plenitude that are essentially human attributes.
Actually, Rabab Nemr's artworks are a testament to the state of equilibrium inherent in man. God bestowed on man a thinking mind, a spirituality that is elevated by creativity in order to connect with the essence of existence.
Dr. Mostafa Abdel-Moity