Youssef Nabil


CINEMA

4 September - 11 October 2008

Michael Stevenson is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Youssef Nabil, his second at the gallery following Sleep in My Arms in 2007.

The exhibition will bring together hand-coloured photographs of celebrities and friends, self-portraits, and scenes staged over the past 15 years. Nabil was born in 1972 in Cairo. He studied literature and began producing his photographs while still living there. In this time he took many glamorous portraits of singers and stars such as Natacha Atlas, Naguib Mahfouz, Youssra and legendary belly-dancer Fifi Abdou. He later moved to Paris and New York, where he has continued to produce haunting self-portraits that reflect his dislocated life away from Egypt, as well as portraits of fellow artists, many of them from the Arab world, including Ghada Amer, Shirin Neshat, Mona Hatoum, Tracey Emin and Zaha Hadid.

In his photographs, his preoccupations with fame, sex, loneliness and death are immediately apparent. Many of the famous sitters are photographed asleep, in the realms of dreams and rest, far from their public personas. Or Nabil photographs them in a glamorous manner befitting their fame, often set against a pale blue background, his gentle hand-colouring removing the blemishes of reality. In his staged photographs he creates scenes that recall Arabic cinema of the 1950s where the heroes and stars act out the broken dreams of love, life and sex. Interspersed throughout the series are self-portraits in liminal spaces on the edge of consciousness where he is seemingly unaware of the presence of the camera.

He colours his prints by hand, a technique that recalls the hand-coloured family portraits that still adorn people's living rooms in Cairo. This unusual and distinctive medium disrupts our sense of time and place; his photographs are, and are not, images of our time.

Nabil's first collection of photographs, Sleep in My Arms, was published by Autograph ABP, London, and Michael Stevenson in 2007. Nabil was awarded the Seydou Keita Prize for portraiture at the 2003 Biennial of African Photography in Bamako, Mali. He has previous had solo exhibitions at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles, France, in 2003; the Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City, in 2001; and the Third Line Gallery in Dubai in 2007. His work has featured on numerous curated exhibitions including, in 2008, Far from Home at the North Carolina Museum of Art; and, in 2006, Arabiske Blikke at the GL Strand Museum in Copenhagen; Word into Art at the British Museum, London; and Nineteen Views: Contemporary Arab Photography at the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville, Spain.

Nabil will exhibit concurrently with Berni Searle.

The exhibition will open on Thursday 4 September, 6 - 8pm. The gallery is open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and Saturday from 10am to 1pm.

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