Gigi Gabr is a relatively new artist whose works reflect diverse cultural references and bridge religions, styles and geographical boundaries, creating a dialogue of playful interaction with the audience. The Art Collector did a Q&A interview with the artist.
Do you have a background in art or any formal training as an artist?
I have no formal training but I always loved to draw when I was younger; I just never pursued it professionally. I had other hobbies, including playing sports.
Your works are predominantly in oil. Do you use any other mediums?
They are actually mostly in acrylics, and sometimes even just with pencils when I sketch.
Can you tell us about your works – what are their dimensions? Do you work from the same size of canvas? If not, how does your subject matter dictate the size of the work?
At the beginning I started by using quite small canvases, and then as I got more comfortable, I began going for larger ones and now I prefer working from larger canvases. Recently, I’ve either been going for one subject on a large canvas or experimenting with multiple small or medium canvases but as twins or small collections – similar subjects across the canvases.
As a follow up, what is the genesis of your subject matter?
The genesis and beginning of my art, which began during COVID, is the ability to express my core during challenging times and to achieve the ability to express myself.
Where are your works currently exhibited?
So far, I’ve been hanging them at our home in Egypt and in Washington DC.
Your body of work references multiple cultures and styles. How would you describe yours?
At the beginning, I was mostly doing landscapes. It was during COVID when we were all inside and so I drew and painted different places, mostly outdoors. As I got more comfortable, I began to experiment with painting individuals and people with more detail. I try and get inspiration from different places when I am out and about. I have begun taking more photographs of scenes that I like, pictures I see at exhibits around the world and see what I am able to do in merging and emerging different styles.
Has being exposed to a vast collection of Orientalist art influenced your aesthetic? Has contemporary art shaped your style?
I would love to paint in the Orientalist style, in particular because its origins are largely that of my home in Egypt and the Middle Eastt. I hope to be more influenced by the collection and the style, even if I can’t paint quite like them, I’d love to try one of their subjects. No, contemporary art has not shaped my style.
Every contemporary artist has a message/statement to convey,either subliminally or overtly, unless they create purely visual work. Have you?
I love art. I love painting, but I felt that the experience was not complete until I made something of my own. My paintings express my dreams, my wishes – happiness, sadness and joy. They explain daily life.
Do you think artists have a responsibility as agents of social change or do you subscribe to “art for art’s sake”?
I love art because of emotions and humanity and the peace of mind that it can create both for me and those who view it and are around it – not art for art’s sake.