Hana has always had a unique relationship with art, thanks to her upbringing in one of Egypt’s most rooted artistic families. Since a very young age, she had been a student and apprentice to her father, the late Magd El Sagini, one of Egypt’s most beloved art teachers. Only after 13 years since graduating from The Faculty of Economics and Political Science in 2001, that she exclusively pursued her artistic passion. After a compelling career in multinational organizations in both Cairo & Dubai, she bid goodbye in 2014 to join Metafora Academy of Contemporary art in Barcelona and returned home to establish her own Art School in Cairo, teaching young talents the love of art, both conceptually and in practice. Since then, she participated in several group exhibitions in Cairo & Barcelona in 2015, 2016 & 2017.
Hana held her first solo exhibition “Moments” at Zamalek Art Gallery in 2018, participated in “Something else Off Biennale” Cairo, 2018, she has also won The Dean Collection Award #TDC20 (USA) in 2018 and The Biafarin Art Prize part of the 13th Art Laguna prize (Italy) in 2019.
Hana lives in Düsseldorf, Germany, and works between Cairo and Düsseldorf.
1.WHAT WOULD MAKE YOUR SOUL SING? WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
Getting hit with an idea makes my heart skip a beat, usually in the middle of the night. Finding the best way to visually voice my idea after trying so many things gives me butterflies! Solving challenges that occur from translating my idea from my mind and heart to an actual art piece makes my intellect sing! Being so tired from working all the time makes me sleep peacefully at night! Looking at my final work and feeling proud I pushed my limits makes me a happy person.
2. A CHILDHOOD STORY THAT ANNOUNCED THE CREATIVE PERSON YOU ARE TODAY
I always created my own birthday cards and spent a lot of time coloring each one individually and diligently! This birthday card was created when I was 8 years old. I did not think that it was creative at the time, but it represents a lot of the values I work with till today.
3. BEST CONTEXT EVER FOR INSPIRATION WAS
Everything and anything only when my senses, mind, and heart are open to receive and to give back whenever I can. The story of the invention of Prussian blue in the 1700s was my inspiration to use for my last project “42 Bahgat Ali” as it was all monochrome using only this color.
So a story or even a word can inspire an entire idea, color, or pattern of a scarf. It can inspire me to use in a piece, movement, gesture. The hardware store is always an inspiration for a different material, which keeps me open to diversifying my projects. So we have the entire universe with all its details to inspire us!
4. THE PROJECT YOU LOVED MOST
My latest installation that was exhibited in Cairo (“42 Bahgat Ali”) is my favorite, the name of the exhibition is the address of my childhood home in Zamalek Cairo.
The exhibition is an elusive reflection of my childhood family home with all its details mirrored in the gallery space, using life-size flat wood, acrylic paint, and visual illusion techniques, with a sound installation of a tv happening in the background. (it is all 2D flat wood, no real furniture)
The entire 2-year process of creation that involved all the personal details, family, and memories was phenomenal on an emotional level. The way I pushed the limits of what I know was a personal breakthrough that I am proud of. Seeing the final outcome in the gallery after this beautiful journey, and the way people interacted with the work and shared with me personal stories about their own childhood home was breathtaking.
5. THE PROJECT OTHERS LOVED MOST
“The Bathroom trip”, a project presented in the “Something Else of Biennale in Cairo 2018” was a piece loved by many people. It is a life-size installation of flat wood, acrylic paint, and metal of girl’s bathroom with all that happens in it, the selfies, the makeup fix and sharing, the quick calls, and the gossip! The project concept:
“Girls… Yalla bathroom?!” One girl confidently says after the first hour of dinner at this loud and dim lighted place the group of friends are at. Her tone is so confidently excited that other girls enthusiastically reply “Yalla…Let’s go!”, instantly picking up their purses and looking forward to this quick private get together, leaving the men not fully understanding why they need to go together.
They reach the bathroom door, and they immediately calmer, away from all the noise happening outside, taking a moment to quickly check their reflection, getting some self-assurance and an opportunity to fix something, their looks, actions, or thoughts. Maybe this getaway is a possible chance for unplanned events to happen, meeting an old friend, making a quick call, sharing makeup with a stranger in a heartwarming gesture.
They go out of the bathroom, walking more confidently across the crowd heading back to their group, thinking they may need this getaway again very soon.
The piece talked about this short break we all need in the midst of the busy place and quick pace of our lives, how women unite and connect with all there diversity and differences when they are together, even in a 10-minute powder room break! And how this short “me time” gives clarity and boost to keep going.
6. THE BEST THING ABOUT EGYPTIAN CREATIVITY IS:
The ability to make the most out of the limited resources we have with the most beautiful smile, sense of humor, and self sarcasm there is! Egyptians have the most clever, witty, and creative ways to come up with solutions and make things work! Egyptians are witty, street smart, and creative in all ways possible.
7. BEST STATEMENT OF EGYPTIAN HUMOR:
With the old traditional saying of “A clever person weaves using a leg of a donkey!” is my favorite, we always think out of the box or even throw the box to make it work.
8. ADVICE FOR INTERNATIONAL HEADHUNTERS, RELATED TO EGYPTIAN CREATIVES
My one advice would be to NOT only look at what the Egyptian creative(s) have already created, as it may have been created with the influence and context of the Egyptian art scene with its limitations, opportunities, and resources but look at the potential of what they can create with the right freedom, support, and resources.
And to further ask and probe how they have created what they did, what were the pressures and challenges they faced, and to listen to their ideas and dreams.
9. BEST PLACE IN CAIRO
I have always loved the Egypt Railway Station, the main railway station in Cairo. I used to pass by it nearly every day when I was living in Egypt, and I used it a lot when I was a teenager with my friends from Cairo to Alexandria in the summer.
Its special architecture, history, busy life with so many different people carrying different looking luggage and items, going to different places in the country, each with a different story and reason. I used to be there more than an hour before my train, sit in the coffee shop and keep watching and making stories in my head.
10. BEST PLACE IN EGYPT
When I was a kid, I would spend my vacation with my parents by camping in Sinai for a month, in a place called “Basata Ecolodge”. I used to work there during our stay and came back every summer for 10 years. It is very primitive and nature is all you have, a lot of time to appreciate nature, bond with family and friends. so it is the best place in Egypt on all levels! I take my own kids now whenever I can.
11. MOST DISTURBING CLICHÉ ABOUT EGYPT, IN THE MEDIA OUTLETS OF THE WORLD IS
The portrayal of Egypt as a traditional country, that is “only” full of history and beauty in each and every centimeter of it, the media never links how all that Egypt carries makes the DNA of Egyptian people, no matter what their economic and social status is. It is a DNA of greatness and that is full of potential. And no one should ever be surprised when great people come out of Egypt.
12. EGYPT SHOULD BE KNOWN FOR
Its people, the population with the most potential in talent, creation, problem-solving and hard work. Egyptians are like undiscovered Gems that need polishing and being placed in the right place to shine.
13. YOUR VIEWS ON SPIRITUALITY
Being an honest person that gives their all in whatever they do, strives to add value to the world and others, constantly count their blessings, and treating others like they want to be treated is all the world needs to be spiritually happy.
14. YOUR VIEWS ON MONEY
Just pieces of paper that humanity has given way more value and importance than it should.
15. AN INSPIRATION SOURCE YOU RECOMMEND FOR A YOUNG CREATIVE
Music Videos from VH1, MTV, and similar channels have been a brilliant source of fresh inspiration for me.
These couple of minutes in each video carry so much creativity and art, from clothing, to locations, studio setup, color palettes, movement, to compositions, all combined.
16. AN EGYPT BASED FEMALE TALENT THAT DESERVES TO BE PROMOTED AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL, AS EXPONENT OF LOCAL CREATIVE SPIRIT
Melina Argyriou has been gaining wide popularity with all her creations, both her MCollection minimalistic jewelry line and her distinctive taste in interior design.