Biography

Cultural historian Huda Lutfi is a self-taught artist. An Associate Professor at the American University, Cairo, Lutfi holds a PhD in Islamic Culture and History. Her artistic practice is closely aligned with her research, both of which reflect upon history and traditions as they exist in the contemporary world. In considering the present-day interpretations and misinterpretations of the past, Lutfi investigates the human psyche as it relates to remembrance.

 

Lutfi's practice has always been in conversation with a larger political context. She traditionally incorporated strong elements of popular culture, political insignia, and a play on slogans and language. The human figure has been an essential part of her language; it often came in the form of deconstructed Cairo mannequins, in repetition and as reflections of excess, waste, and the value of bodies in the urban context that engulfs her oeuvre. Lutfi's use of pop icons has been confrontational and direct while also abstracted to create sharp statements on social and political conditions. Her work took a more self-reflexive and inward turn in the recent years (Still, 2018). While some of the work remained figurative it would be set in surrealistic domestic scenes, exploring silence and other metaphors for death, reflecting on personal questions and familial concerns (When Dreams Call for Silence, 2019). In her following series of work, Healing Devices (2020), Lutfi oscillates towards sculptural paper abstractions. Inspired by al-Jazari’s book on The Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, Lutfi enters zones of unvisited historical memory. “In the face of subjective and collective states of constraints and anxiety,” she says, “the actual practice of making these ‘healing devices’ brought about not only emotional relief, but also an open and playful process spurred on by the surprises of experimentation.”

 

In her most recent Our Black Thread series, Lutfi's reactions to her environment takes on an even quieter meditative discourse from her previous work. She invokes feminine traditions of craftsmanship and dedicates days of labor to create numerous miniature embroideries, a practice that moves between her own home and her studio. In abstracting a process of a historically predetermined craft, she creates trajectories and lines without planning an end result. Leaving in all the irregularities and glitches, one can track the entanglements and material relationships between the elements and their points of juncture with her own mind.

 

Selected solo exhibitions include; Healing Devices, Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, USA (2021); Our Black Thread, Gypsum Gallery, Cairo, Egypt (2021); When Dreams Call for Silence, The American University in Cairo, Tahrir Cultural Center, Cairo, Egypt (2019); Still, The Third Line, Dubai, UAE (2018); Magnetic Bodies: Imaging the Urban, The Third Line, Dubai, UAE (2016); Cut and Paste, Townhouse Gallery, Cairo, Egypt (2013); to name a few. 

 

Selected group exhibitions include; Reflections contemporary art of the Middle East and North Africa, The British Museum, London, UK (2021); There Is Fiction In The Space Between, The Third Line, Dubai, UAE (2020); Occupational Hazards, Apexarts, New York, USA (2019); Tell me the Story of all These Things, Villa Vassilieff, Paris, France (2017); The Turn: Art Practices in Post-Spring Societies, Kunstraum Niederoesterreich, Vienna (2016); La Bienal del Sur, Caracas, Venezuela (2015); Terms & Conditions, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore (2013); My World Images, Festival For Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, Denmark (2010); to name a few. 

 

Lutfi currently lives and works in Cairo, Egypt. 

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