Basma Abdallh is both a talented painter and interior designer. She took part in eniGma’s Covers Reimagined event in June of 2021 with her artistic rendition of the covers with Bassel Khaiat and Reham Abdel Ghaffour, and Mido. eniGma’s Rawya Lamei had the chance to chat with the artist to find out more about her trajectory and merging her two passions, interior design and painting, to create a thriving business.
Artist Basma Abdallah has a fun and bubbly personality that shines through her art as well as in her daily life. Her artistic leanings started as a happy child growing up in Alexandria, where she would often pick shells at the beach and make art pieces out of them. “This is how my passion for art started, and I’m so glad that my family has kept these little craft projects,” she says nostalgically. At first, her love for drawing led her to a career in interior design. However, while she enjoyed design immensely, she felt that she was still missing something and decided to change course. “All of my work in design was being done on a computer, and I’m a very crafty person,” she recalls. She decided on painting as her preferred activity, focusing on portraits from the start, while also maintaining her interest in interior design.
Abdallah’s portraits are extraordinarily expressive. “I love to paint eyes. Once I put them in, it fills the canvas with so much life. I’ve always felt that the human body is the ultimate form of art,” she says. Her portraits are more abstract, however, and she uses uncommon shapes and colours. The overall effect is quite unrealistic, yet brilliantly capturing a specific expressive moment.
Among Abdallah’s first portraits were those of football superstar Mido and movie actress Shereen Reda, both of whom had reached out to her through her page on social media back when she was painting as a hobby. Mido had specifically requested a very large painting (3×3 metres), which she found extremely daunting at first. Luckily, the final product was a great success. Since then, she has focused on painting very large portraits. “They’re extremely expressive and eye-grabbing and give this amazing wow factor!” she affirms.
Painting is a form of meditation for Abdallah. Whenever she’s in a bad mood, she will take her frustration out onto a canvas. She finds it therapeutic. “I have different styles depending on my mood. Sometimes I go very organised and symmetrical, including geometric shapes in the background. And sometimes I go very random, splattering the colours across the canvas,” she explains. Her psychological state shows in every work she creates, and art gives her the space to take out all her negative energy.
Abdallah makes her own canvases from scratch, which is not common among artists. She has a carpenter cut the wood, and then she crafts her own canvas in her large workshop space. She likes to explore painting with different materials, usually using acrylic paints and knives to create a textured painting. To finish off her work she adds a layer of epoxy resin, which gives it a nice glow with a marble effect. It also gives the painting a protective layer.
Abdallah prides herself on having created a business based on merging interior design with her art. “I work with professionals in interior design, complimenting their work with my art. This has helped my business grow,” she says. With many people upgrading to larger homes these days, the interior design market in Egypt is experiencing strong growth, and she is well positioned to take advantage of that by creating unique art to fit in every new home. Interior designers send her 3D designs of the work they plan for a home, then Abdallah chooses what’s suitable for the space, whether it’s a portrait or an abstract painting, picking what would complement it best. She then sends a proposal with her ideas, including sketches. Once it’s approved, she starts working on the painting. Her use of colour is inspired by the furniture, the walls, lighting, and everything in between. She also likes to sit down with the owners to get a sense of their personality and preferences, thus creating a beautiful harmony between the painting, the interior, and the homeowner.
Abdallah considers her large studio her home, her happy place. “It’s my favourite place on earth,” she says, adding enthusiastically, “It’s where I lose myself crafting my canvas and painting. The space allows me to experiment and explore new ideas. Every portrait I make is like my baby, especially since I create it from scratch, adding to it along the way until the result is perfect.” Abdallah adds, “I truly encourage anyone going through a tough time or depression to let out their frustration through art.”