162 N 3rd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
image: the arrival, Bassem Yousri
taken from the Knapp Gallery's website:
The Knapp Gallery is excited to announce The Yousri Scrolls, a poetic and reflective show for the months of September and October.
This fall, The Knapp Gallery is eager to introduce Egyptian artist and Fulbright recipient Bassem Yousri to an international audience. The Yousri Scrolls will be the first opportunity for an American public to see these striking, exotic and evocative works in person.
Primarily employing papyrus and fire treated wood; the artwork of Yousri evokes Ancient Egyptian tomb murals and painted coffins. The bright pigments he applies contrast with the faded, worn surfaces of his canvases creating an attention-grabbing juxtaposition. Yousri’s elegant rebuff of modern surface treatment and style promotes the ideas and messages of a modern individual reflecting upon the rich cultural and artistic past of his Native country.
By utilizing the traditional materials and methods of his Egyptian upbringing, Bassem Yousri manages to promote a sense of timeless eternity in his works. He reconsiders historic themes and iconography to create a contemporary pastiche of techniques and images. Not simply an appropriation, Yousri’s artwork combines and heightens classic motifs by applying a fresh edge and discerning modern eye to the ancient and mythical symbols he draws upon. The method proves unforgettable, unique and attention grabbing.
We hope that you will join us for this international painter’s American debut!
The Knapp Gallery is committed to exhibiting the most sophisticated, contemporary fine art. Simultaneously, we are introducing our exceptional, innovative artists to national and international markets.
Since my childhood, Ancient Egyptian art fed my visual vocabulary with all sorts of spiritual and mystical imagery. A captivating sense of eternity is inherent in those artifacts emanating from deep faith in an after life. It’s an eternity that has been disrupted by colonizers from different eras starting with the Romans to the Arabs, French, Turks, and English. Today’s Egypt is a disorientated one between Islamic fundamentalism and cultural Americanization. The horizon is hazy and the color isn’t clear.
A lot of questions have been raised in my mind; amidst all the current cultural confusion, what’s left from those bygone traces of richness and fertility? What did time add or steal from that identity that was shaped almost 7000 years ago? Moreover, Could time itself be portrayed? Could its power of modification be grasped and understood? These are questions that initiated my new body of work I am presenting in this exhibition, in which I attempt to grasp the effect of time on objects, cultures and civilizations. The group of works is inspired by Ancient Egyptian art, especially the “Fayoum Portraits” which date to the Roman period, in the late 1st century B.C. or the early 1st century A.D. onwards.
My emphasis is on the material; I use papyrus, wood, and fire. The wood is beaten up and carved in the form of remnants or ruins. The fire has the role of shaping the pieces of papyrus, darkening parts of it, creating holes in other parts, and merging it with the destructive effect of time. I am not attempting to recreate older pieces or copy exact motifs; what I am undertaking is to reincarnate the effect of time, manipulate and watch it antiquating my most recent pieces in an attempt to experience and control its ability of alteration.
— Bassem Yousri