A new orientalism

Rania Khallaf , Tuesday 26 Oct 2021

Rania Khallaf attended Wael Nour’s latest exhibition


Entitled “Light”, a new watercolour exhibition by Wael Nour opened on 16 October at Cordoba Art Gallery in Mohandsine. The 26 small to medium paintings invite the viewer to explore sources of light, both hidden and visible, through paper. The images are mostly landscapes of Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Assiut and Esna as well as Luxor, where Nour lives with his family.

Born and raised in Assiut, Nour has always sought unusual landscapes and remote locations. A 1999 graduate of the Faculty of Art Education in Assiut, it was there that Nour met his mentor Behkeet Farrag (1939-1997), the dean of the faculty and one of Egypt’s few watercolour icons, himself a student of Shafik Rezq (1905-1989), and the first Egyptian to show watercolours at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Nour started his career by reproducing images from magazines, eventually gaining Farrag’s approval and becoming his protégé – then he began to paint from life, and eventually participating in the Spring Salon organised by the Assiut Culture Palace in 1997.

“I used to walk for miles on the outskirts of Assiut, with my tools in my backpack, stopping when I found something I wanted to depict. Sometimes I returned to the same spot with my mentor and we worked together. His sudden death was a saddening accident, a great loss, however, I am trying to keep his teachings and spirit. I haven’t given up this method until now, anyway. It is a complete joy, and it works. You see, I worked in Cairo for few years after my graduation, but I couldn’t bear the noisy overcrowded streets and decided to settle in the peaceful city of Luxor, the ancient Egyptian capital. I tried many mediums and some of my early paintings were symbolic, but I never loved anything more than watercolour, which is believed to be the most delicate medium. Luckily enough,” he adds, smiling, “watercolour is more popular than other mediums among tourists in Luxor.”