Ahmed Morsi’s figures are like statues carved from the gray matter that makes up our unseen inner cosmos. The multitudes contained within the psyche are here allowed a glimpse of our waking world—to meet their peculiar gazes is to reach into the Unknown—if only visually, and only for a moment. But what a moment.
The artist hails from a locale shrouded in ancient myth and modern day political quagmire: Alexandria, Egypt. It’s a port city of legend, one that lies at the axis of two major ancient empires: the Greco-Roman and Egyptian. Morsi’s work seems to speak through this history and beyond—there is a sultry thread of the primitive at play, one that communicates in symbol and gesture rather than in language, while at the same time subverting these same symbols and gestures, rendering them both poignant and absurd.
office sat down for a brief interview with the artist, and his answers felt a bit like the title of the show—poetry.
If you could choose a single word to encapsulate your work, or that your work is somehow drawn to, what would it be?
There’s a concept in the writing of fantasy and science fiction called 'world-building' that, in a way, your work reminds me of. What kind of world are you building and what is possible there?
I am not building a world—for me, that world, my world, exists and has existed since time immemorial. It is a world where everything is seen, perceived and understood differently. Your world is bound by conditioning, preconceived habits. In mine, the senses are free.
How does your work speak to the world at large?
I sense and respond to my world in my own language. My work—the poetry as well as well as the paintings, and other visual works are my own language of expression, one that is comprised of my own vocabulary. It is a very personal experience and one that is not meant to address others, as much as it speaks of my personal journey in this life. Others are free to take from both my words and my images what they may—to have a personal experience of their own. I encourage that freedom.
A professor of mine once argued that the world of dreams is as real as our physical world—what do you think?
I am in total agreement with your professor. The world of dreams is equally real to the material world, and we live a whole life negotiating through both these realities.
What was your last memorable dream?
It was a dream of my birthplace, of Alexandria, a city that used to be and is no more.