In his highly-coloured, irresistible stencilled images, Egyptian-Armenian artist Chant Avedissian – who refined his techniques in Western art schools and whose inspiration is fuelled by the pantheon of Egypt’s modern political/cultural Golden Age – deftly explores the boundaries between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art; politics and pop; the ephemeral and the enduring; and Egypt and the rest of the world.
As Rose Issa’s careful retrospective of the artist shows, Avedissian’s subject is, in fact, images themselves – mostly appropriated from the covers of Egyptian magazines from an era, situated roughly between King Farouk’s early days and President Nasser’s death, when that country was the most determined among all the Arab states pursuing the ideal of modernity. The brightly burning stars who blaze once again in Avedissian’s canvases include legendary singers Om Kalsoum and Asmahan; screen sirens Shadia and Hind Rostom; heart-throbs Farid al-Attrash and Abdel Halim Hafez; and once-adored statesmen like Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Avedissian’s voracious appetite for glimpses of these bygone days, and his unerring synthesis of the themes and iconography of Egypt and the Arab world in the 1950s and 1960s, also takes in mothers, sportsmen and women, soldiers, films, hieroglyphics, rural life and advertising.
About the Contributors
Chant Avedissian was born in Cairo. His work is part of the public collection at the British Museum, the British Council (Cairo), the Smithsonian Institution, the Tropenmuseum (Amsterdam), the National Museum of Scotland and the National Gallery of Jordan.
About the Editor(s)
Rose Issa is a curator and writer who has championed visual art and film from the Arab world and Iran for nearly 30 years. Her gallery, Rose Issa Projects, showcases the best in upcoming and established artists from the Arab world and Iran, www.roseissa.com.
‘What is most noticeable in this beautiful book is the deep love that Chant seems to have for his country ... An individual art that is incomparable to any other work.’
'Cairo Stencils' offers a comprehensive exploration of Avedissian's work from the early 1990s until now, replete with short, clearly written texts delving into the precise iconography at play in his work and the symbols he uses to contruct complex systems of meaning on a two-dimensional plane of ridged and fragile cardboard.'
Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, The Daily Star