Egyptian-Swiss Karim Noureldin’s latest installation art connects
to Cairo not as a visitor to his family or as a tourist, but as an artist in residence.This time there was no father to translate the questions of the airport police. His apartment overlooked a Misr petrol station, the iconic logo of which featured the pyramids which so fascinated him as a child.While in Cairo, he deeply studied the country’s social and political history, looking for inspiration.
His sojourn in Egypt produced a book which looked at Cairo through an unusual lens. Cairo’s businesses invariably have roll-down storefront gates. Painters are hired to give these gates some colour and work at night when the shops are closed. More often than not, simplistic geometric designs, stripped lines in bright colours, and in other places triangles, were used. Images of these Cairo doors were compiled in a book by the author with the title “MISR”.The book also includes images of cars on Cairo’s streets wrapped in dust covers. The photos were taken in a way that even this seemingly every-day action appears as found-art. But, not in the manner of Marcel Duchamp, but as a geometric and artistic abstraction. The book can be read in English or be flipped over and read in Arabic.
“I work in the abstract [and geometric designs], so there is an inspiration in my work in Arabic and Islamic art for which I have an affinity. I am culturally a European, but I am comfortable in any large city in the world.”
Today, he lives in Lausanne, where he works as a professor at the University ofArt and Design.In this role,he is again bridging two worlds, the artistic and the academic.
“Some companies collect art, but Julius Baer might be one of the best at collecting in the corporate world. There is a family feel in their behaviour and philosophy in their collecting,”
Noureldin is also a family man; his wife is French and he has children. His study is in Lausanne, his gallery is in Basel, and he works with three different dealers. He credits Switzerland’s small size—each city is only a trainride away—for his ability to work across the country.
“Of course I would be open to doing more work in the Middle East as an artist,” the artist said with a grin.“I would be thrilled if there were more opportunities. Right now, I am very busy back in Switzerland.”