For over a decade Youssef Nabil has been developing three unique yet interconnected series of hand colored photographs—staged cinematic stills; portraits of artists, writers, actors and filmmakers; and haunting self-portraits. In the cinema series, the earliest of the three, Nabil pays homage to the glamour of classical Egyptian films of the 1950s, 60s and 70s that mesmerized him as a child. The cinema series narratives are not driven by a specific storyline, but rather present beautiful, anonymous starlets in settings that require the viewer’s interpretation. For instance, Ehsan and Light, Cairo, portrays a beautiful and bejeweled actress who stares seductively at the viewer with pouted wine-stained lips and her arms wrapped languidly around an industrial movie lamp. In this image, Ehsan is presented as a symbol of Egypt, a fecund woman whose light shines in perpetuity.
From Melissa Messina, “Youssef Nabil: I Live Within You,” Youssef Nabil: I Live Within You (exhibition catalog). Savannah College of Art and Design, 2010.