Conversation Piece: a nice talk with Yasmine Elgamal

Updated: 3 days ago

In "Sogno N.1" (Dream N.1) we find a girl with a conical hat and a ruff, while in "Sogno n.3" a pusheen or kawaii led lamp in the cat's shape and a horse head.

I notice an ambivalence between sensuality and a playful aspect furthermore, dreamlike metamorphism merges with the transparent and unfussy reality. Where is the dream and what is the dream for you?

This ambivalence that you feel could be present in this artwork, but it's the result of a broader discourse that affects all my poetics: the dialectic between lightness and heaviness, between delicacy and impact. This dialectic is at the base of everything I do, the same happens to other artists. The ideas are the cornerstones of their poetics: these ideas involve the rest and take on an evident form. "The dream", to me, is the push towards an image and the realization of the image itself.

Do you want to tell us about your travels? Which were the ones that marked you the most?

Each journey influences life, opens the mind and consequently also influences artistic production.

The Egyptian experience in Cairo (linked to my paternal origins) is certainly cultural baggage that I gladly carry with me. It is certainly the most ocher place I have ever seen. Even the air looks ocher. You can breathe this colour!

Most of the travels I did around Europe were too short to radically influence me. I wish to come back to the places I visited to really understand what they can mean to me.

I would like to visit The Red Canyons, to taste the colour red!

Surely the longest trip, of two years, was to Brighton (UK). Summarizing so much time is complicated, but to make it an aesthetic topic, I can say that each place teaches us and reveals different colours, giving us new shades.

It is a journey that has definitely changed my vision. Colours can do it.nd grey. Blue like the sky, like the afternoon shadows, like the soul, like peace and nostalgia. Grey as the clouds, the fog, the sad veil in his eyes. Green like the parks and the mystery.

The English atmosphere is undoubtedly fairytale. It is very different from the Italian one, chromatically much more chaotic.

It is a journey that has definitely changed my vision. Colours can make a difference!

You often went to the National Portrait Gallery when you were in London. What are the paintings that you love more, considering the subject portrait or the painter?

I definitely loved Van Dyck's self-portrait. His self-portrait made me cry more than once. It is an oval painting, in a gold frame.

The subject seems alive, sad and impulsive like the brushstrokes that created the sleeve of his dress.

The impulsive act does not affect the accuracy of the painting, the masterpiece gives proof of the painter's technical and spiritual awarenesses.

The impulsive act does not affect the accuracy of the painting, the masterpiece gives proof of the painter's technical and spiritual awareness.

Your paintings are figurative and your teacher was Marco Rossati. Which are the artists from the past you like and which emerging artists do you love and follow on the social networks, such as Instagram and Pinterest?

I am constantly looking for answers in history, so telling you the names of masters of the past would lead me to draw up an almost infinite list.

I can name those I have most recently observed: Guido Reni, Simon Vouet, John Singer Sargent and Lucien Freud.

More than emerging artists, I would speak about contemporary artists...

Sean Cheetham, Lorenzo Ceccotti, Valentina Pazzini and the "very Roman" Leonardo Crudi.

How was your dream project born? What should the landing place be?

The project was born when I felt a push that was pressing towards the image.

I was looking for something, which I painted, and so found and displayed.

I wanted to continue the series, but it was just a fundamental step to get to the next vision.

The landing does not exist, the landing always and only takes shape in a new departure.

What is the next step?

The next step is my most recent adventure, among the flowers and leaves. Flowers that fly, light, among heavy souls. Or, heavy souls turning into light flowers.

I think I found the image I was looking for. Delicacy and impact, in fact.

Could you explain the three steps of the project better? From the retired workers represented individually, to the construction of the dream… up to the final stage, the real dream, alluded to by the presence of the ruff.

There isn't much to explain. As for the workers, for me too, it was a tiring job: dreaming is exhausting, building a dream even more.

The naked body, especially female, is the protagonist of the series… what are you interested in the nude?

The nude is the best choice when you are looking for an ideal. The nude is absolute, much less subject to context, to temporality.

nudity shows the human being in all its beauty and all its weaknesses, even considering the idea of superhuman existence.

Particular headdresses (in the shape of a cone, horse and pomegranate) and the gorget, these attributes become symbolic elements. Do they resume tradition or take on new meanings for you? What do they allude to (especially if we consider that the subjects wear the ruff in the dream)?

There are many and not very logical reasons.

I think the symbol gives the representations a timeless connotation: it is a concept that I particularly care about.

As for the symbology I have adopted, it is obvious that I use it for the meaning I assign to that particular symbol, but it is equally obvious that even the most personal symbolic system is actually the child of a pre-existing, cumbersome and deeply rooted symbolic system.

What I am saying is that the meaning is indeed new and mine, but it is also, in a reactionary way, the most obvious, as the symbol to which it belongs.

I often wonder if painting, drawing - indeed, I would say - art in all its forms, go to celebrate the symbol and its meaning or if they go to break the bond between them.

Would you describe your technique? You start from the drawing and from hours of "live pose" with models to finish an oil painting, would you like to talk more about these steps? What do they mean to you? Did you happen to completely change your mind during your creation?

Drawing and painting from life are a fundamental part of my work.

This experience is for both sides, both me and the models, to show us in our entirety.

It is the most beautiful and painful thing at the same time. It's like falling in love.

Or maybe not, the eye remains clinical, it's like doing the love autopsy.

I always change my mind during construction (work in progress).

I can never follow the initial idea, 100%.

The artwork evolves with me ... every second.

You claimed that your colour palette is cooling, why this choice?

It wasn't really a choice, I just felt the need to change my palette. There wasn't a real decision upstream. Surely, there were some influences. I focus a lot on the colours around me. The colour palette always reflects my life. My art approach is almost automatic, instinctive. Although I work on figurative art, the various passages remain rather instinctive and fluid, the colour palette is certainly the "litmus test" of all the creation's process.

The hammer is the instrument of construction and destruction, it seems an instrument of power that also alludes to sexual language ... do you want to talk about it?

The Hammer is our will to transform a simple tool into a power's tool.

That's right! It builds and destroys.

The allusion was oriented more towards intimacy rather than sensuality, but they are very similar terms.

The female subjects seem to have a decisive and preponderant role in the series, the male subjects appear more languid, is that just an impression or did you want to suggest this idea?

I like to represent men, in their sweetness and tenderness.

In fact, I think that sweetness and delicacy are part of all my subjects, men and women. So maybe the right question would be: why do women stand out as strengths in this series?

And well, even with the right question I couldn't have answered; or maybe the answer is the same to all questions: because I needed it.

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