Asmaa Elmongi in conversation with Engy Hassanen | Egypt / United Arab Emirates
Egyptian artist and EAS contributor Asmaa Elmongi introduces here Engy Hassanen, whose artworks are filled with deeply personal symbols, mapping out emotional and mental landscapes.
Closest to old caves’ paintings, in a natural raw state, Engy Hassanen creates unique, mysterious symbols and depictions that show very personal emotions and thoughts. Hassanen points out that art represents for her a survival mechanism, as it is tied deeply to her identity.
Hassanen is interested in drawing human as well as animal figures, as they represent existential themes, which help her to manifest and manage an overflow of existential panic. In her most recent show, titled “I Have No Intentions to Explain Myself", she tries to be as direct as possible by depicting authentic creatures in enigmatic scenes. She is telling us that she exists and expresses her thoughts.
Goats in Hassanen’s paintings refer to the duality of a docile, scared animal, which can also be a symbol of evil. “Goats are animals with horns, and horns are something very natural and organic. The way horns grow is the same as trees grow. That’s how I was reflecting on why I chose goats specifically, as I depicted goats in my most recent project and I am working on this again...” said the artist.
“Goats are kind of symbols of evil, and what appears so scary and evil can actually be a creature that is very frightened.”
As Hassanen tells us in her own words, through her paintings she expresses that what is apparent to the eye can be very different from the inner feelings or thoughts.
During her studies in Art and Design at the American University in Dubai, Hassanen has learnt how to make a well finished artwork, which is actually something that she dislikes. As an act of rebellion against the clean, finished works demanded by design, she uses large, torn pieces of kraft paper on which she works directly.
“I really enjoy this, as it gives me the freedom to do whatsoever I want on the paper...” she says.
Hassanen, who is inspired visually by Francis Bacon and Jean-Michel Basquiat, has mentioned that she is very passionate about the visceral way Bacon creates his artworks, as the way he is not restricted or afraid in his depiction of the human figure.
The young artist, yet very mature in art, is taking things step by step to develop her concept as well as the technical aspect of her work. She explores different compositions, and sometimes she takes a step back to find out what can be approved and what needs to be improved. Her living at present in the United Arab Emirates is a motivation for her to develop her art practice, as the themes to which she gives expression can be introduced here to many people of different cultures and nationalities.
Engy Hassanen is a visual artist and a designer who graduated from the American University in Dubai (AUD). She received her BFA in Visual Communication and Graphic Design from the School of Art, Architecture, and Design in 2018. She has been on the Dean’s Honor list and is the winner of the “Outstanding Graphic Design Student Award”.