When drawing becomes the identity of its creator”
Yussuf Limmoud

What is eye-opening in the work of Nazir Tanbouli is that he has escaped falling into the “illustration trap” in his drawings, as well as avoiding the “decorative” trap in his paintings. Maybe the secret is that he didn't lose a “feel” that connects to and communicates with a certain type of symbolism rooted in the characteristics of the Egyptian artist; it is inherited from the art of their earliest ancestors, and was crystallised in contemporary Egyptian art through very few artists, who have succeeded in realizing a balance between speaking a contemporary artistic language and sensitively reaching out for these ancient roots. No doubt, Nazir Tanbouli is one of those few. This is despite his belonging to a generation that rebelled on these roots, either consciously or because of an unawareness based on the atmosphere of disappointment, in which Egyptian artists - and Arab-speaking artists in general – live today… Not forgetting the temptations and the influences of so-called “globalisation”.

The drawing, and by that I mean the line, is Tanbouli’s language. It takes priority on all of his surfaces, even in his painting work.

Sharpness, smoothness, thickness and fineness accumulate like a musical score.

The line turns and returns within the composition: not so much telling a story as, rather, exciting the imagination of the viewer through symbolism. This symbolism opens up a space that doesn’t belong to any particular geography, yet is inhabited by an “Eastern memory” that has echoes of Persian art, with its detailed extravaganza, like a rich visual feast. These are mature, thoughtful images, with maximum power of expression.

The composition is simultaneously centred and decentred, as if invisible dynamite has blown the elements in every direction. Even so, the eye can distinguish a mysterious calm; the source of which is that the artist is standing his own ground, and keeping to his own path of finding his own identity. It is an identity which does not stop proving itself and rooting itself intensively within this small space we call a drawing or a painting.

The real name for this space is Icons of Identity.

Switzerland, 2008