Shayma Aziz visual artist

Posted on 11 July 2016   Artists, Interviews, News

“What I hate is ignorance, smallness of imagination, the eye that sees no farther than its own lashes. All things are possible… Who you are is limited only by who you think you are.” – Egyptian Book of The Dead

The definition of an artist

Shayma Aziz, the artist we are presenting you in this interview, is born in Asyut in Egypt, she lives and works in Cairo, but currently is in Beirut, where she found “the most vibrant city in the region in terms of galleries and cultural activities.” Special attention is to be given to her female characters and her sophisticated approach to ‘women subject’ in Egypt. This, together with other subjects of her artistic interests, already put her among the most important contemporary artists.

Shayma Aziz in New York

Shayma Aziz in ‘artistic action’ in New York


Shayma Aziz, visual artist

Shayma Aziz – how do you define yourself? Through your art, as a painter, or there is some deeper reason than the art is? For example, a philosopher painter, as your art reflects thoughts, states of mind and soul? Could this reading be correct? Tell us yours.

Shayma Aziz portrait

Portrait of Shayma Aziz

I define myself as a visual artist, I have worked with space and time in installation and animation, I have also published my drawings in poetry books and literature magazine. Have done some book covers and have had the pleasure to design film sets and styling. Although painting is my main passion, I enjoy other forms of art as well.

Lines and drawing philosophy from Luxor

You are born in Egypt. You live in Cairo, you studied the art in Luxor. Does this give you something special and if yes, what it is? I refer to your culture as first.

Yes, I think studying in Luxor gave me something special, as I always went to draw in the ancient temples. I studied the ancient Egyptian lines and drawing philosophy.

Women artists in Egypt and the other influences

Tell us about that time and if there were already any famous woman painter in Egypt. 

That time Luxor was very vibrant and diverse. Unlike now, tourism was flourishing. Though in any place in Egypt women don’t have the easiest time. There was indeed a lot of famous women artists like Tahia Halim , Gazibya Serry, Engie Aflaton and many others.


Modigliani in Egypt

Who influenced you in your artistic growth?

We studied the western history of art, I was influenced a lot by Modigliani although I didn’t know it back then, but I received comments as such and I do find some things in common between us.




Europe or USA? From the artistic point of view, from your experience, what was important and why in your artistic journey?

They both are important like I said, we studied western art. The books of art history mention both as important. I found the museums filled with western art works fascinating, the collection in the Metropolitan is amazing, I enjoyed it a lot.

How to make a living as an artist

Do you live from your art?

I try but it’s very hard with the economic situation we’ve been having. I sell from time to time but I also do other things like book covers and illustrations.


Painting as Faith

Let’s dive into your art. How all started and why?

It started since I was a child , I drew my first self-portrait when I was 7 years old. I remember stretching my legs so I can see myself in the mirror. Unfortunately, I don’t have this picture anymore. I grew up in a loud house. The drawing was the only thing that gave me comfort. And so it grew and grew and became the only thing I truly wanted to do in spite of the disapproval of my father.


A state of art, a state of body

Please explain us your artistic phases and tell us more about your paintings, your themes, the story you paint, and what’s your artistic message?

I always played with different materials without having a favourite. My themes rotated around alienation, love, and the female body. I drew and painted portraits for as long as I can remember, I was captivated by the look, what’s behind the eyes … the strangeness of strangers and how they walk in the city (this is when I moved to Cairo after I finished college) then in Cairo I drew lovers over its sky. Since it’s very hard and even punishable by law to display affection in public. I exhibited this drawing installation in Artellewa Art Space in Giza. I had been working then on another line which is the female body in black using ink with wash technique (using a lot of water) to depict the disappearance of the female body in my city. They were covering up more and more. I exhibited this series both in Beirut in Zico House in 2009 and in Cairo in Lot17 art gallery in 2010. I am currently working with charcoal illustrating poems by renowned Lebanese poet Fidel Sbeity, we are collaborating to produce a book by the end of the year. This would be my second collaboration with a poet, the previous was in Istanbul with renowned Turkish Poet Umit Ozkan.

Silent erosion series

Shayma 3

Exhibitions and Audience

The journey of your paintings. Exhibitions. Where you have exhibited and what do you remember from those experiences?

I exhibited in several cities though I wasn’t always present in the exhibition. It’s very exciting to see the audience’s reactions and feedback lately I was in New York Live Arts working daily on a mural so I received theatre and dance audience, they were very happy with my presence and my work. I worked on a piece depicting drowning people in regards to the refugees crisis.

State of Body 1 by Shayma Aziz

Friendship with artists

Do you have friendships with other artists? Tell us about it?

Yes! I do, from several fields of arts , including filmmakers, musicians, writers …etc the field is vast and friendships sometimes flourish into producing work together. For instance, my paintings will be in a feature film as the paintings of the two heroines of the movie it’s called Eve’s Apple directed by my dear friend Tamer Sami. It will be in theatres in Egypt soon. Others flourish into group exhibitions and such.

With Syrian and Iraqi artists in Beirut

How about the other countries around Egypt, do you have exhibitions there and what you can tell us about the arts there? Any name to pay attention to?

I went to Beirut a lot – where I am currently- I find it to be the most vibrant city in the region in terms of galleries and cultural activities. There are other nationalities here like Syrian and Iraqi artists who produce very good works. I admire a lot the works of the Lebanese Artist Ayman Baalbaki, the Iraqi artist Serwan Baran and the Syrian artist Ghylan Safadi. But there is a lot more to see and to admire in this city.


Next destination New York

Where would you like to have your next exhibition?

In New York, I found this city a fascinating one that I would like to get to know more and exhibit there again.

Living in one unpredictable region

I always ask artists one question at the end. It’s where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

Well, I don’t know … we live in an unpredictable region!

Shayma Aziz, drawing

Contact Info

Click here to visitShayma Aziz website
Representing Galleries: Art Lounge Gallery, Cairo & Seidl Studios, Minnesota, USA

Interview byValerija Brkljac

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