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Hany Fawzy: On Creating Confident, Colourful and Conflicted Masterpieces

architecture art arts & culture Hany Fawzy Iman El Sanhoury Youssra Fawzy
Hany Fawzy: On Creating Confident, Colourful and Conflicted Masterpieces
    written by
    Mariam Nowar

    Image credit: Youssra Fawzy

    The temperature dropped a few degrees, and the night seemed darker than ever when our interview with architect and artist Hany Fawzy was nearly at an end.

    Only one question remained unasked: Could we see the painting process?

    The Tempest

    Less than a year before, we had encountered Fawzy’s artworks for the first time face-to-face during his debut in The Circle Exhibition at Ubuntu Art Gallery. Fawzy humbly welcomed all sorts of wonderings from onlookers, including ours, questioning the methodology behind the creation of these masterpieces.

    The confidence in his lines, colours that perfectly meshed, and the conflict that exuded from the elements in the paintings were later explored, but right there and then, they were justified by his rich architectural background.

    Image credit: Youssra Fawzy

    Fawzy, 64, majored in architecture at Ain Shams University in Cairo, so drawing was never foreign to his hands. But, it turns out his passion for painting started decades before his degree. His older sister, Jilan, ignited his pursuit through her own artistic ventures, and his father nurtured his talent from quite an early age.

    “I was in the fourth grade, I think, when I entered an international competition and came second. It was in India”, recalled Fawzy. “What I remember clearly is that I was very upset that I didn’t rank in first place!” he added with a light chuckle.

    Frank Lloyd Wright once said that “the mother art is architecture”, and he did not miss the mark on that one; neither did Fawzy’s professor during his third year at college, who frankly told Fawzy that he was mistaken to have majored in architecture. “You should have majored in Fine Arts instead”, his professor stated.

    Yellow, White, Green

    Fawzy always knew painting to be his true calling. Throughout the years of incredible success as an architect and interior designer, he revealed that he would often leave a few of his own paintings in the spaces he created as a gift to their new owners. In fact, Fawzy’s generosity went as far as handing over any of his artworks that his peers fancied, which led to Fawzy’s continuous struggle to launch any exhibitions as he had no paintings left to exhibit.

    His first attempt at a showing was titled “On the Phone” since all the artworks were created during phone calls. He would keep art supplies next to his telephone, back when mobiles weren’t as popular, and every time he picked up the phone, he would start painting. But then he gave all of his paintings away, again, and the exhibition never took place!

    The Initiation

    To Fawzy, art and engineering are two sides of the same coin. His art is influenced by his profession, and his paintings usually carry bold, sharp strokes, geometrical shapes, and a lot of dynamism. “I have always been in love with dynamic construction, which enables the architect to step out of the static state into a more dynamic one”, shared Fawzy about the technical side of his art.

    Static construction is very organised, while the dynamic is consistently moving and has not yet reached its final state. Through Fawzy’s perception of both states, he concluded that the former is more similar to classical art, such as portraits and landscapes, while the latter represented the whimsical world of abstract. This meant that Fawzy could use different solid shapes together to tell a story without them ever fully achieving a stagnant form. Consequently, Fawzy’s thoughts would translate into shapes, which all revolve around one main theme: conflict.

    “I call it conflictism”, which can be between shapes, directions, or colours. “This conflict keeps you in a state of continuous motion. You feel the conflict, but you don’t necessarily understand it”. This way, Fawzy’s art does not give you resolution as a viewer but instead allows you to sense the never-ending tale, a tension that is taking place on the canvas.

    And which side wins these conflicts? Up to you!


    Fawzy explained how artists can either paint according to visions or feelings. He then grabbed a piece of paper, put a box of oil pigment sticks on the table, and started to select from them. When asked about the choices, he shared that there was no predefined plan to use any of the specific material he was reaching for; it was random.

    What took place next, after our questions had run out, was something simply phenomenal. One stroke of colour after another, using an array of techniques, and voila! A blank piece of paper had swiftly come to life. Fawzy credited his beloved wife, Iman El Sanhoury, and his children as the main driving force behind his rejuvenated pursuit of art. “Iman helps me hold on to my paintings now”, he said. “She decides which ones will stay”.

    Leaving us with a final piece of advice, Fawzy encourages young artists to trust in the process and have a genuine message to convey. As long as they have studied the basic techniques, along with the language of colours, the end result will organically present itself. Although our conversation’s finale continued while Fawzy was painting, he did not seem startled.

    Image credit: Youssra Fawzy

    “And now, as you draw, do you feel free?” we wondered out loud.

    Fawzy paused and looked up from his artwork. Yet, there seemed to be no hesitation in his voice when he replied with a simple, “Yes”.

    Sailing 1”                                                                                                  “Sailing 2

    Challenged                                                                                 “Dispersed

    Image credit: Youssra Fawzy

    Image credit: Youssra Fawzy

    Image credit: Youssra Fawzy

    Image credit: Youssra Fawzy

    Check out more of Hany Fawzy’s art on Instagram.