Hana Gamal also known as @hanaperlas is an Egyptian Photographer and visual Artist. She takes us on a journey with fascinating portraits of the people she meets wondering the streets of Egypt.
Tell us a little about yourself?
Ever since childhood, I have been always fascinated by art and how it can be a powerful representation of emotions and meanings. I was always the silent child/teenager so art was my personal getaway as it allowed me to have the freedom for self-expression, poetry, doodling, and sometimes painting.
I loved to silently observe rather than talk. I was always intrigued by human behavior and I found solace in being a silent observer; my curiosity and amazement of human mind and behavior has led me to want to understand people; I studied and graduated from the American university in Cairo with a double major in mass communication and media arts; and psychology.
What inspires you to create your work?
‘I believe in humanity.’
I always find my inspiration in human behavior, emotions, and unique rich cultures. I believe that we are all spiritual beings but trapped in a materialistic body. Especially that nowadays, media, economic, and social pressure are promoting for a more materialistic culture which is degrading us from our humanity everyday.
That is why I’m most inspired to take photographs that capture the genuine humanity of everyday life, and provoke compassion and an understanding of our differences. Because regardless of our differences, humanity will always remain the common ground that connects us all together and help us understand that we are all part of each other.
Moreover, my beloved Egypt – my greatest inspiration. Egypt is a heaven for artists who are seeking inspiration because of its unique cultural diversity. In Egypt, I find irony in its most beautiful form. I find everything and its absolute opposite in total harmony. I find people who are really poor yet their souls are rich, full of gratitude, peace, and ambitions. I find people who are in desperate need of help yet offering help to others. I find and rediscover myself everyday with every encounter and every photograph I take.
What are the reoccurring themes in your artwork and is there a reason for this?
‘Women, and light.’
Light and the absence of light is a common theme in my artwork because I try to visualize what it is like to understand life in its wholeness. Which is aligning with the reality of life as it is, aligning with its two polarities – the dark and light. Nothing in life can ever exist in one polarity alone; happiness can’t exist without sadness, just like the way shadows and light are co-dependent.
Egyptian women inspire me in so many ways. Their beauty, their strength, their vulnerability, every thing about them. However, they are often neglected in the society or portrayed in a wrong way. I believe that women are fragile and delicate human beings yet they are very strong. So I like to portray their weaknesses in a beautiful and powerful way. Even if the picture shows a weakness or a weak emotion, her vulnerability is still powerful in the image.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
‘The most important thing to me is the human aspect of the photograph, the people and their stories.’
To try to give an insight into their lives, to create a visual narrative by freezing that significant moment that will allow the viewer to see through the person in the photograph and imagine their stories, or what it is like to be that person; to say something and to make the viewer feel something. I don’t want to just take pictures for the sensation of the eye; it has to convey a valuable message.
Connect us with a few of your favorite artists at the moment?
Amal salah – @shuffle_designs
Fida Al hussan- @fidaart
Marwa al mugait – @maralmugait
El Zeft – @elzeft
Mostafa El Kashef – @kashef_el
Lastly how do you reconnect to your culture and/or identity?
Photography has taught me to see Egypt with my heart, not just with my eyes. It helped me rediscover the beauty of my country, and the genuineness of its people, which I found to be truly spectacular. I learn more about life and the art of living in the eyes of each and every soul I meet.
You can see more of her work here: @HanaPerlas
Sara F is an Artist & independent curator, her main area of focus is supporting emerging artists and making sure people of colour get to showcase their work in a gallery space. She will be featuring some of her favourite Arab Artists with interviews. You can find her at @frozenvanity