At first glance, the paintings appear as international artworks masterfully executed.
Twitter and Facebook users have circulated and shared photos of a collection of paintings viewers thought belonged to an international artist. It came as a surprise to know that these artworks were created by a young Egyptian artist who goes by the name Madeleine Ashraf, a student of physiotherapy.
Watani met Ms Ashraf and talked to her.
“My name is Madeleine Ashraf Amin Awad; I am 21 years old, a student in my final year at Cairo University’s Faculty of Physiotherapy.”
Ms Ashraf told Watani that her beginnings with drawing was when she was in her eighth year in school. “I remember my friend Sandra who was talented in drawing. She encouraged me whenever I drew or painted. She used to tell me ‘your depiction is so beautiful; go on’.”
“During my secondary school years, I passed through very hard times. For four years, my father suffered from brain cancer, then he passed away. I was devastated; it was hard to do anything. Whenever I thought my father would never be in my life any more, I would break down in tears. Drawing was the one thing that made me go on; it was my source of consolation.
“I do love the medical field, specifically physiotherapy,” she added, “But drawing is still my favourite way to live in my own world. It has become the necessary positive energy in my world.
“My passion for painting made me decide to become a professional artist. The decision was not easy, yet it led me do my best to be among the best. I loved to participate in competitions, but sometimes I did not make it. Now, every competition I take part in, I usually rank first.”
Most of competitions Ms Ashraf took part in were on the university level. The upcoming competition she intends to participate in will be “Ibdaa” (Creativity) at Cairo University.
Ms Ashraf uses more than one material: oil-colours; wax crayons; pencil colours; pencils and charcoal. “With each material I used, I went through a different adventure.”
One of those adventures was the idea of using a compass, she told Watani that it came up while on Instagram’. “I loved the idea; it was for me a new, exciting experiment. I thank God I did succeed in drawing using a compass.”
It was not always so positive for Ms Ashraf, however. “My art teacher in school did not believe I could really paint, and this put me down. But positive energy and support came my way from my father when he lived; and now from my mother, siblings, friends, colleagues and teachers.
“Before taking a final decision, I took my mother’s opinion. She is the one who encouraged me to go down the path I really loved.
“A major turning point in my life came when Dr Rimon Suliman, a professor at the College of Fine Arts and one of the jury members in a competition I had taken part in, said: ‘I frequently meet people who chose art as career; in your case, however, art has chosen you’. I can never forget his words; they encouraged me to take up the challenge. So, I took it upon myself to keep drawing on a daily basis,” she proudly said.
Her friends would share images of her works on social media, giving her wide recognition among youthful bloggers.
Watani asked Ms Ashraf to comment on one of her paintings, She chose the portrait of an aged woman with a smiling face. “This is the dearest to my heart, and was the most difficult to execute. It took me a full month and two days to complete it, because of the intricate details,” she said.
Finally, in reply to a question by Watani about her dream for the future, she said, “I wish to hold an international exhibition, so that my artwork may be seen by people from all over the world. I hope that one day I would be able to widely convey the message I was created for.”
22 October 2019