Yasser Gad, a passionate artist, studied to become a writer. After a distinguished career at the Ministry of Culture, during which he experienced firsthand the rich cultural scene in Egypt, he decided to pursue a long time passion he had for painting as well as his love of writing. He thus began to paint while also conducting research and writing about the history of Egyptian art. Today, Gad is a practicing painter, with several exhibitions under his belt. eniGma’s Ezz Al-Turkey sat down with him to learn more about his art and his path to success.
asser Gad earned a degree in architecture, as well as in Egyptian Archaeological Literature, and went on to a long career with the Ministry of Culture, from 1998 until 2012. “My first introduction to fine art, as it is known today, was at an Orientalists Exhibition at the Cairo Opera House in 1998. This sparked my interest and I began reading about great works and masterpieces from the Orientalists era. Slowly but surely, I went on to explore modern art and spent 14 years just trying to understand what art really is. There is a lot to discover about art. It intrigues me reading about art, especially in Egypt,” recalls Gad. His passion for art grew with every piece of new information he learned.
“I started drawing and painting after the 2011 revolution, and since then I’ve had five exhibitions. Soon after, I started writing about art as well. I wrote about everything I saw related to art over the past 35 years. My writing is very realistic non-fiction,” explains Gad, who authored Qera’a Fe Al Tashkeel Al Masry El Mo’aser (A Reading in Egyptian Contemporary Art), a multi volume book covering modern artists that Gad has witnessed during his life. In the book, he shows how they portrayed their art, and he analyses it through the prism of his experience with these artists. “In 2018, I met Mohamed Ismail of Egyptian TV’s El Bernameg El Tany (The Second Show), and he suggested that I come on the show with several segments. The idea was for me to basically take apart one piece of art per episode; to discuss the piece in detail so that the viewer would really take it all in. We ended up making over 50 episodes, which was really fun. I really wanted to help people interpret art and show them how to really feel it,” he adds.
When writing his books, Gad focuses on providing as much information about the artists as possible, while still making sure the reader understands that everything he writes is his opinion. “I don’t focus on what international artists say and I don’t copy anyone. I write as a person who has a background in art. I give my unfiltered opinion. I actually really love attending art seminars to get inspiration for what to write next. However, I like to completely make sure that my art and my writing don’t interfere with each other. What I write isn’t what I paint. They’re different worlds for me. My collections are solely about what I see and what I want to express. It’s more feeling-based while my writing is more opinion-based,” explains Gad.
When it comes to his own art, Gad likes to draw inspiration from the reality around him. The everyday struggles and lives of people around him give him the material he needs when drawing and painting. One of his first collections revolved around women he knew, like his mother, relatives, friends and even women he didn’t know personally. He wanted to capture their emotions, both positive and negative. Based on the positive reviews of that collection, it seems Gad achieved this goal.
Gad explains that he doesn’t appreciate overly-polished cities, which in contrast to old cities like Cairo, simply don’t offer the same energy. “I like to showcase where I grew up, where I live. Old Cairo is so magnificent; it possesses an endless supply of inspiration for me. I think that’s what’s so charming about it. In every nook, there is something to capture or something to paint. It’s beautiful, but also extremely full of character, which a lot of other cities unfortunately lack,” Gad explains, adding, “So, a staircase in my home, as simple as it may seem, actually means to me much more than anyone would think,” referring to his ‘Stairs’ collection, where each piece captures a different angle of the same staircase at his home in Cairo.
One of the projects that Gad is proud to have been involved in was the Reviving Humanity project from 2018, which took place during the World Youth Forum in Sharm El Sheikh. Gad was the executive manager of the project, which was curated by Designer Shusha Abu Elkheir. “I was very proud to work on a project like this. Especially since it was at the World Youth Forum and with such great artists. I love art, and I especially love it when we can do something powerful and inspiring with it for the youth. I was honoured that Abu Elkheir wanted to include me in her project, which started out as a brilliant idea she had. And I hope I get to do more of these projects in the future,” says Gad.
“I think that expressive art is a very important school of art. People really love it and it’s easy for the average person to understand, which is very important for me. Art shouldn’t be exclusive; it should be for all people,” Gad continues, explaining that art should be accessible to everyone.
Looking forward, Gad doesn’t plan on giving up either of his passions. There are plenty in the works for both his art and his music. Gad explains that he is working on an upcoming collection that he plans to finish in the next couple of years. At the same time, it is clear he also doesn’t plan to stop writing anytime soon, but rather wants to incorporate art and writing together even more. He is currently working on the latest volume of his very popular book. “I feel very lucky; things feel very stable right now,” he concludes.