TV interview at a group show in downtown Cairo, 2019

The Confessions Questionnaire

Your name/nickname.

“King of the Pop Art” in Egypt — Ahram Ibdu, 2017.

Current mood in one word.


What is your favourite dish?

Macaroni with potatoes. It’s my food collage.

Tea or coffee?

Tea, a lot of it, it’s replaced my cigarette addiction.

Favourite place you’ve travelled to and why?


Favourite movie?

The Secret of the Hat that Vanishes (Sir ta’iet el ekhfa)

 It’s about a man with a magical hat, once he wears it he can become invisible. Surreal and comic.

Favourite book or poem and why?

I don’t like reading or poetry. I like images. I don’t like writing. 

Your Life Motto or favourite quote?

Blessed is he who sleeps having been wronged.

Ya batkh ili binam mazloum

What or who inspires you the most in life?

I don’t have anyone fixed. 

I especially like William Kentridge.

@sirjoancornellaI see this as the future of art selling.

Three unique things about where you live?

Egypt especially never ceases to have drama and events. This is particular.

The chaos is across the board, very rich, contradictory and surreal.

The capacity to absorb all this, even if it’s negative, to be able to be sarcastic and to laugh.

A piece of advice you’d give to your younger self.

Language–to have learnt another language. Would have made a huge difference to my life. I was too late in embracing this. 

To experiment more, never be afraid. Experimentation is infinite. 

How do you escape a creative block?

I try to research, do workshops with younger artists,  or do communal/group exhibitions with other artists to think of new ideas.

It is important to have  creative blocks so I can think more deeply about my work.

Do you have a favourite colour?


Favourite art tool?

Acrylic paint — I like its speed.

Is your studio messy or tidy?

It is very tidy, I care a lot about order.

Why did you become an artist?

I had a sister who was a one-year-old baby and she died in my arms. I started drawing to get out of my depression due to her loss and this is how I became an artist. I believed I drew for her, to communicate with her through my art.  She died from a bad allergy.

My political works are one way to fight for her, through my anger as there was one bad public hospital specialised in allergy medicine, and they let her down. She died.

In 2017: I had an exhibition to mark my artistic practice.

What is the most challenging or exciting thing about being an artist?

Continuity and change are the toughest two things. To be successful is easy, but to continue is not.

Craziest artistic experiment you've tried.

Insects in my multimedia work in the late 1990s. 

I spent 4 years creating them. I wanted to celebrate them, after spending my childhood torturing them. It had no commercial merit, they were ugly and violent. I metamorphosed them like Kafta into humans and insects.

Funniest criticism you’ve received.

It is ongoing: every time I have new work or I do an exhibition, the audience keeps telling me my previous exhibition was better.

Endless nostalgia.

I would say “betray art before it betrays you.” Ughdur yalla al fann, abl ma ughdur feek.

Describe your style in three words.

Diagnostic, Transformative and Sarcastic.

Most memorable artistic achievement.

Whatever I haven’t achieved.  

I have a plan for an exhibition for my father: my father’s museum.

Online museum —father and sister.

Dream collaboration (with someone dead or alive)

I do this all the time so I don’t have a dream collaboration. It’s part of my practice to collaborate with other artists.

If you could exhibit anywhere, where would it be?

I have more humble ambitions focused on my work, rather than on an exhibition in a specific location.