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Photographer Salwa Rashad journeys Egypt from north to south

Bringing painting and photography together, Salwa Rashad aims to reveal hidden connections and deeper meanings borne betwen places and people

Dina Ezzat , Saturday 20 Aug 2016
Salwa Rashad
(Photo: Salwa Rashad)
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An Ottoman-style window on the façade of an early 20th century building in the popular quarter of cosmopolitan Alexandria.

Another photo shows the entrance to the Art Deco apartment building off Cherif Pacha Street.

We also see a group of women from Upper Egypt go for a short river trip in Luxor, between the two banks of the Nile. 

Such are a few of the many coloured digital photos that Alexandria-based artist Salwa Rashad captured during long walks and trips from the north of the country to its south.

Salwa Rashad
(Photo: Salwa Rashad)


The pictures, Rashad says, are not typical art photography work. Rather, they are a mix of photography and painting.

“I do the pictures and I crop them in the way that would bring them closer to painting. I sometimes just paint and sometimes just do photography, but what I really have passion for is bringing these two arts together,” Rashad said.

She is currently working on a new collection of photography-painting that should be exhibited early next year.

“It is really about us, our bodies, and how we relate to the places we are in. It is about this dialogue between who we are and where we are, really,” she said.

Salwa Rashad
(Photo: Salwa Rashad)


In 1986, Rashad graduated from the painting section of her hometown's school of plastic arts. Her passion for photography, which started in her early teens, was in part the catalyst for her pursuit of art studies, along with the talent she has. It is a passion that kept growing within her while her talent was being honed through post-study workshops and practice.

Whether in Egypt, France, Syria, Portugal or anywhere around the Mediterranean, to which Rashad holds a grounded affinity, as to her harbour city, Rashad had always pursued the link between body and place, because she thinks that is there the soul lies.

“Sometimes people think that I am only trying to document the fast disappearing beauty of Alexandria, or for that matter Upper Egypt, whose beauty I think was never fully unveiled,” Rashad said.

“But my mission, at least as I would like to see it, is not just about documenting in the abstract sense; it is rather about looking through — and not just at the beauty, or the pain, that I can see during my long walks around any city that I end up in,” she added.

Salwa Rashad
(Photo: Salwa Rashad)


“It is beyond nostalgia, tapping into human perception of things and places,” Rashad explained.

“When I pass by an old building with the engraved initials of its original founder some time at the turn of the 20th century, and I take a picture, I am also seeing there the often unobserved imprint of the fingers of a painter who had decades later given the façade a fresh coat of paint,” she said.

For her new collection, Rashad says she is trying to capture in part the link between some of the places of the myth of Isis and Osiris “which are practically all over Egypt, and all about Egypt."

The ancient Egyptian myth is about the murder of Osiris by his brother Set, and the painful pursuit of Osiris's wife, Isis, to reassemble the body of her husband to posthumously conceive with him a son, Horus, who becomes the rival of Set for the throne of Egypt.

“It is an unending story that keeps repeating itself over and over again. I think we need to have, perhaps, a more insightful look at it. And what a better tool to look through history than art?” Rashad said.

Salwa Rashad
(Photo: Salwa Rashad)

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