Sherin Guirguis: Of Thorns and Love
September 30, 2018 — January 6, 2019
Egyptian-born, Los Angeles-based artist Sherin Guirguis’s practice addresses suppressed histories and their unearthing through Eastern ornamentation, site, and text. Of Thorns and Love is based on the work of Egyptian feminist activist, writer, and publisher Doria Shafik (1908-1975). Shafik transformed Egypt’s political system in the 1940s and ‘50s by leading the movement to secure women’s rights—but she was placed under house arrest in 1957 and erased from record due to her opposition to Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918–1970), president of Egypt from 1956-1970. Guirguis condensed two years of research about Shafik into abstract works that reference events, architectural sites, and writings significant to Shafik’s history and political career.
Shafik was an intellectual and poet, educated abroad, and highly fashionable. She epitomized the transition Egypt was going through in her lifetime, moving from its traditional, colonial past into an independent, modern, and hopefully, progressive future. Shafik forged a modern feminist movement through her publications and political actions, which included storming the Egyptian parliament in 1951—a historic moment that brought over a thousand women into public space as no leader had done before. It was through this action that Egyptian women won their right to vote.
For this exhibition, Guirguis focuses on two specific events in Shafik’s life that she considers most impactful and bracket Shafik’s activist work: Shafik’s first public speech given at age nineteen (1928) and the storming of Egypt’s Parliament. Guirguis embodies these histories in the designs present at each site. Hand-cut into the paintings, these architectural references and geometries act as unofficial monuments to the lost history of this feminist leader. By distilling Shafik’s work through sites and her words, Guirguis has created a visual record of Shafik’s most meaningful actions and ideas.
Curator: Holly Jerger
This exhibition is sponsored by the Fellows of Contemporary Art (FOCA).
Exhibition Photography: Panic Studio LA
Lead Image: Sherin Guirguis, Triple Disk Lotus (Here I Have Returned), 2018. Hand cut paper, ink, gold leaf, acrylic paint, Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Panic Studio LA.