Engaging artist Fadia Badrawi’s fifth art exhibition "Places and Moments in Time" will feature some 30 vivid, new works. Educated both in Cairo and at Wellesley College in Massachusetts in the US where she majored in Studio Art and Art History,
Badrawi returned home in 1993 after graduating to live and work. Using oil as her medium, her works are filled with light and color and evoke a universal atmosphere of calm and tranquility. Juggling her painting with her work as the head of web design at Design Co-ordinators, Badrawi took some time out of her hectic schedule to talk about her artistic career, her influences and her upcoming exhibition.
Diva: How old were you when you started showing an interest in art, and what drew you to it? FB: When I was 12 years old, my art teacher told me that she felt I had a talent for drawing. Before that, I remember having enjoyed art classes, whether it was making things like “papier maché” objects, clay pieces, or even filling coloring books. Most of my free time was spent doing these sort of activities even when I was sick with the flu in bed. But it was when I entered the 7th grade at Cairo American College that I started to take art seriously, as serious as a teenager takes things anyway! I was interested mostly in drawing. Learning how to see objects, light and form became my goal. I remember spending hours just copying things on paper with pencil – faces of people in magazines, everyday objects, or even my own face in the mirror – to the extent that my nickname in art class became Ms. Xerox! A few years later, I was encouraged to take the Advanced Placement exam for art that would allow me to take more advanced courses at university. I had to make a collection of work that was sent to Washington DC, where the AP exams from all US high schools are judged, I received the highest grade possible, so that game me some verification of what people thought of my work to take home… mainly that maybe I had some talent after all!
Diva: You have inherited both American and Egyptian cultures; how does it affect your creations? FB: Although my parents are Egyptian, they were both educated at US universities and lived in the US for sometime. I was raised here in Egypt, but I too was educated in an American school and at a university in Boston. So yes, I have inherited a dual culture. How this has affected my artwork, I cannot exactly be sure. But I believe my work must be influenced by this duality, since this influence has shaped who I am, and who I am cannot be divorced from my work. After all, our creations are really just extensions of who we are.
Diva: Where do you usually get your inspiration from? What inspired your latest work? FB: I can get inspired by everyday things, shapes, people and places. Inspiration can come from a corner of a room with interesting light, or an exotic face with a lot of wrinkles. I suppose my main source of inspiration is what I see around me. I prefer depicting life as a I see it, rather that from my imagination. I let my subconscious interpret what I see, and I think this always shows in my paintings. As a I have developed as an artist, I think I have begun to recognize where my subconscious appears in my paintings and my goal is to try and not suppress that, but rather to let it show through and not worry as much about what my eyes see alone. This exhibit, “Places and Moments in Time,” was inspired by my being in a particular location at a certain time. I was inspired by painting outdoors mostly in “plein-air”, a difficult task that forces one to try and capture the essence of a place in a short amount of time, since one is always battling with the elements, especially the changing light. The subject matter varies from rural Egyptian scenes to California landscapes, but I also have a few still life paintings that I think have a similar quality in an inexplicable way.
Diva: Does your personality reflect in your work a lot? FB: Oh I’m sure it does, although we are not always good judges of our own personality, so perhaps you better ask someone who knows me and my work! However, in general I can see that my paintings, like my personality, have a strong basis in reality, are more classic than “avant garde” and possess a lot of sensitivity. I think there is also an element of the “undisclosed”; the feeling that there is something more than just what meets the eye.
Diva: Who are your favorite painters / artists and why FB: My all time favorite painter is an American who lived in Europe most of his life, a contemporary of the Impressionists, John Singer Sargent. The reason for my admiration is simply because I love his painting; absolutely flawless in technique and color. His subject matter varied from formal portraits of wealthy patrons to passionate paintings of Spanish dancers. His personality definitely showed in his work, a very sensitive individual who loved anything beautiful. Other favorite artists of mine are Michelangelo, Velasquez, Dega, Toulouse-Lautrec and Edward Hopper. I also admire Ahmed Sabri, Hedayet and Fatma Rifaat.
Diva: What do you think of art in Egypt? FB: Art has always been an integral part of Egypt since the beginning of our history. So who cannot help but admire our heritage as builders, artisans and artists? But as for art in Egypt today, I think that it reflects contemporary art around the world. Unfortunatley, I often find that the quality of artwork is mediocre and usually obscure to most people. A lot ot the time, I see exhibitions that just employ “shock value” or are really just completely meaningless but pretend to have meaning. This exists in Cairo as much as it does in some of the big cities in Europe and the US. Regrettably, I feel that a general appreciation for the arts has been absent from the public because it has become difficult to relate to. It is understandable that art today has taken on new definitions that involve depicting more complex ideas beyond the picturesque, beyond the canvas, and are not just about telling a grand story (like the old masters did). However, I think that for these creations to be genuine and successful, the artist who creates them must be mature enough to have passed through the stages of artistic development. For example, Picasso’s very early work was quite traditional, but through his own personal development he then earned the right to push his depictions further and deconstruct his work to offer new meanings.
Diva: Do you feel you’ve already painted the masterpiece of a lifetime? FB: Definitely not! If I did, everything else I paint would be a disappointment!
Diva: What do you expect from your coming exhibition? FB: I don’t really expect anything in particular. I just want to share my most recent paintings with people. It would be gratifying if others appreciated some of the work. If I sell any work, I’ll be pleased and sad at the same time, since it will mean that someone else will enjoy my work, but it will also mean that I’ll miss my painting!