The Role of Mutation


Solo exhibition, Mohamed Elganouby – Debuting in Tokyo, Japan 2016 at the KanZan Gallery.

Curator: Aida Eltorie

Theme: Chronicling the Unknown

September 3rd – 30th, 2016

Mohamed Elganoby

The Role of Mutation

Ink and watercolor on photographic paper, 2016

The birth of a civilization, as stated by the late and great American historian and Arab and Islamic archeologist, George T. Scanlon is based on two essential elements; water and irritability. The artery of life manifests the fertility of cultures by giving birth to two simple principles, as vulnerable and vulgar as they may seem, to a world unfettered by mankind, does the importance of nature become sought after by our sociable imagination. Elganoby captures an ephemeral flow to the roles of mutation. Though short-lived, they are constantly in motion, seeking new standards, laws and rules to abide by and break, in order to reach a newer level of impermanent temperare. Hence, the growth of another life, another city, another being waiting to break out of its defined form in order to be captured and realized by the creative power that sustains its growth and durability.

So what role does nature play in the subjectivity of art? This is a question asked throughout history, and in particular with Joseph William Turner, the painter of light and an epicenter to his own visual identity. Capturing a more romantic and impressionist approach to his landscapes, did Turner also define the importance of motion and irritability to the survival of his own imagination. He was recognized by the influential art critic, John Ruskin who described him as the artist who could most “stirringly and truthfully measure the moods of Nature.” [1]

For that reason, Elganoby is heavily influenced by Turner in this series as he questions the rules of nature, and its subsequent roles of mutation. Documenting on photo-archival paper, using dissolving mediums that will only push forth the desire to constantly change the movement of visual inconsistency to that of its abstract subjects. What else could define nature, but its powerful, thundering, mysterious, soft and dazzling behavior. How else could nature be captured beyond its treacherous, mighty, natural, mountainous form, in its lakes and caves, waterfalls, snow and rain? Nature does not know its own imagination. For the artist born on the banks of the River Nile or expelled into the flatlands of the Nubian Desert, its oases and dunes, are such forms already non-existent. In the imagination of nature’s own, can an idea become figuratively manufactured and expressed. Therefore, color is left on the surface of the paper, played with as a game of fantasy, waiting for that chance of speculation to take its course.

[1] David Piper, The Illustrated History of Art, Chancellor Press (2000), p.391.

Mohamed Elganoby, The Role of Mutation series, ink and watercolor on photographic paper, 50 cm x 150 cm, 2016 © Mohamed Elganoby


Artist’s Biography

Mohamed Elganoby was born in 1965, in the Egyptian city of Komombo, surrounded both by the remnants of Egypt’s ancient Pharaonic heritage and the rich local histories and traditions which the southern part of Egypt is known for. The oldest son of a worker in a sugar factory, Elganoby was first drawn to art by the life stories of great European artists he first read about during weekly visits to an uncle’s house in the neighboring city of Aswan. These early forays into art history eventually led him, as an adolescent, to delve into the history of modern artistic movements in Egypt, movements which adapted European artistic techniques, tools and forms of modernism to local aesthetic, political and social contexts.

Inspired by both the successes and failures of these earlier generations of Egyptian artists, Elganoby entered the College of Art and Education at the University of Minya, graduating with a degree in art education in 1988. After ten years of teaching art in rural Egypt and in Saudi Arabia, Elganoby moved from the southern part of Egypt to Cairo to pursue his art full time. In early 2007, the artist emigrated once again, this time from the northern part of Egypt to Atlanta, in the Southern United States.

The artist’s southern Egyptian roots and years teaching and working in rural environments are evident in his work. A recurring feature of Elganoby’s paintings, installations and mixed media pieces is the use of raw materials—sand, wood, spices and wax— chosen both for their association with rural southern Egypt and for their suggestion of primitiveness. The use of such materials draws on the artist’s individual memories of time and place, speaks to collective local histories and plays with common stereotypes of Egypt’s rural population as being both backward and the living embodiment of authentic Egyptian culture. His work has been exhibited in galleries and salons throughout Egypt and in group exhibitions in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Atlanta (USA) and in Frankfurt (Germany).

This is Elganoby’s debut in Tokyo under the auspices of the Egyptian Embassy (Japan) and Ministry of Culture and Foreign Cultural Relations (Egypt).

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