Moataz Nasr

Barzakh

Wood and metal
14 m x 4 m

2021

Not built to navigate earthly waters, the sun boat, or solar barque, was carefully constructed to carry the soul of the pharaoh and the justified through to the heavens. It was the vessel gliding between two worlds, able to pass through the liminal space dividing, yet connecting two modes of existence. The barque took the human soul into the realm of the gods through the same divide the gods themselves use to travel back and forth from the world of the living. This oneness between

two realms, divided, yet connected through a liminal space, is not dissimilar from what Ibn Arabi would later describe as the barzakh. The barzakh, or the divide, is a mental construct, an intangible entity that is understood but not witnessed, known but not realized. It is

a presence between two platforms that resides intellectually, not physically, pertaining to its unique nature.

 

The barzakh is susceptible to all manner of paradoxical traits, assembling contradictory pairs. Given that Ibn Arabi believed in a primary duality between the deity and the universe; the only median capable of receiving both sides within itself is the illusion of the barzakh.

 

The connection between them is not that of separation, but rather one that represents two sides to one truth/reality; what connects them is the connected part of the disconnected whole.

Moataz Nasr.jpg

Moataz Nasr (b. 1961, Alexandria, Egypt) lives and works in Cairo. After studying economics, he decided to change direction and took a studio in Old Cairo. This self-taught artist gained local recognition marked by many prizes before breaking into the international art scene in 2001, notably winning the Grand Prix at the 8th International Cairo Biennale. Since then, he has participated in numerous large international gatherings, such as the Venice, Seoul, Sao Paulo, and Bogota biennales, and exhibited in many prestigious contemporary art venues. Today he is considered one of the greatest representatives of pan-Arab contemporary art.

 

Showing complex cultural processes currently underway in the Islamic world, Nasr’s work surpasses idiosyncrasies and geographical limits and voices the worries and torments of the African continent. The feeling of belonging to

a specific geopolitical and cultural context and the need to maintain a link with his homeland are key elements of the artist's life and work. Art and life are inseparable for him. His childhood memories, frustrations, and the

society in which he is evolving seem to fuel his paintings, sculptures, videos, and installations. His work addresses Egypt with its traditions, people, and colours without ever slipping into exoticism or creating distance. It appears, on the contrary, close to everyone's preoccupations. In fact, Egypt is just a background, a territory inhabited by human beings whose fragility is universal, just as indifference, powerlessness, and solitude are weaknesses inherent in human nature.