Youssef Nabil

Youssef Nabil is an Egyptian photographer, born in Cairo and currently living and working between New York and Paris. Nabil began his photography career in 1992 by staging tableaux in which his friends acted out melodramas recalling film stills from the golden age of Egyptian cinema. Shortly after he met the famous American photographer David LaChapelle and later in the 1990s, while working as a photographers' assistant in prominent studios in New York and Paris where he began photographing artists and friends. During this period, Nabil began doing both formal portraits as well as placing his subjects in the realms of dreams and sleep, on the edge of consciousness and far from their public personas. Nabil created an imaginary reality that reflects both the paradoxes of the Middle East in our times as well as the fantasies and flamboyance of Egyptian movie stars in the cosmopolitan pre-revolutionary years in Cairo. He further developed his unique approach to hand-painted photography after he settled back in Cairo in the early 2000s, with portraits of writers, singers and film stars of the Arab world. In recent years, especially since settling in Paris and New York, he has started producing self-portraits that reflect his dislocated life away from Egypt. Nabil's distinctive technique of hand-colouring silver gelatin photographs removes the blemishes of reality and recalls the heyday of Egyptian film. His work evokes a sense of longing and nostalgia and allows his photographs to flicker between our time and another dreaming era. Nabil's work has been presented on numerous solo and group exhibitions at venues including the British Museum, London; Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City; North Carolina Museum of Art, North Carolina; BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle; Museum of Photography; Thessaloniki, Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art; Doha, Nathalie Obadia Gallery, Paris; Galeria Leme, São Paulo; FotoFest Houston, Texas; Centre de Cultura Contemporánea de Barcelona; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah; Kunstmuseum, Bonn; The Third Line Gallery, Dubai; Galerist, Istanbul; Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Sevilla; Aperture Foundation, New York and La Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. Three monographs have been published on Nabil's work: Sleep in My Arms (Autograph ABP and Michael Stevenson, 2007), I Won't let you die (Hatje Cantz, 2008) and Youssef Nabil (Flammarion, 2013). In 2001, while visiting Cairo, British artist Tracey Emin discovered Nabil's work and later nominated him as a future top artist in Harper's article Tomorrow People.
  • The Greater Middle East Unveiled

    The Greater Middle East Unveiled


    April 22, 2014 - May 06, 2014

  • Utopia, photography show

    Utopia, photography show


    May 16, 2013 - June 16, 2013