Alaa El-Madani: An artist’s spirit undimmed by war

Daily News Egypt
4 Min Read

 Alaa El-Madani, a young Syrian artist, arrived in Egypt in late 2012, joining the exodus of thousands fleeing the war that ravaged her homeland, which was once described as the northern region of a single Arab republic that included Egypt and Syria.

 But amidst the displacement, Alaa clung to her artistic passion, becoming another thread in the rich tapestry of Syrian creatives who have sought refuge in Egypt.

Her artistic journey began in childhood, sparked by watching her mother paint. Encouraged by early compliments on her own artistic endeavours, Alaa saw the talent bloom within her, nurtured by her mother’s guidance.

With her first attempts at drawing some simple paintings, she began receiving compliments from those around her, who told her that she inherited the talent and artist’s spirit from her mother that her drawing was good and that she should follow this path and develop her talent.

El-Madani studied decoration at the College of Fine Arts in Syria for two years. However, war intervened, forcing her to leave Syria before completing her studies at the College of Fine Arts.

After coming to Egypt, Alaa was unable to enrol in university due to the lack of some documents requested by Egyptian educational authorities, and it was difficult for Alaa to obtain them from Syria in the circumstances that accompanied her and her family’s move to Egypt. 

Undeterred by the hurdles thrown her way, Alaa refused to let her artistic spirit wane. Unable to immediately resume formal education due to bureaucratic obstacles, she turned to alternative avenues of learning. 

Workshops led by renowned artists like Murad Darwish of Helwan University’s Faculty of Fine Arts provided valuable mentorship.

Alaa seeks to have her own business, so she worked in several administrative positions to gain experience and train herself to manage her own business. “I reached the position of executive director in the company I was working for, but I left my job to fulfil my passion for drawing,” Alaa says.

“Choosing an object to draw is not an easy mission. It may take two weeks until I find something that catches my attention and attracts me to paint it. But the thing I love to paint most is the folds of clothes. Each of my paintings has an experience and a method, but the two paintings I love most.” 

The first is a portrait of a “delicate girl,” a poignant depiction of resilience amidst hardship. “Despite the scratches, wounds, and blood,” Alaa explains, “she brims with life, unwavering and steadfast.” 

The second is a painting of a seated man, seemingly lost in quiet contemplation. “His aura captivated me,” she says, “and I had to paint him.”

 While acknowledging the influence of great artists in her early stages, Alaa is determined to carve her own path. “I don’t want to imitate anyone,” she declares. “I seek to leave my own mark, my own unique voice in the art world.”

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