…I want to help to trigger a New Periclean Age, an epoch where each individual fulfills a deep need, and is allowed to exercise a fundamental ability: to create and be creative. It is almost as if each time the creative individual is on the verge of eclipsing certain thresholds, counter forces rise up — perhaps a reaction to the strain in the grand scheme of things. Sculptors, in particular, could be the ideographs of this new idealist world.
As a part of our series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became an Artist”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr Gindi, a German-Egyptian sculptor, living in Switzerland.
Educated in classic sculpting and working with bronze Dr. Gindi, works in a traditional way: modelling the figure in clay, making the mold, and casting the bronze through the lost wax process. Her artistic expressions span many forms — from full standing figures to portraits and enshrined miniatures. She was originally educated as a medical doctor, hence her predilection for the study of human anatomy — most of her sculptures naturally evolve into morphological structures. She is an Art Salon 2021 finalist for her recent work Transfigured Immortality, the Art Salon is one of the most prestigious awards for realistic art.
Thank you so much for joining us Dr. Gindi. Our readers would love to learn about your background. What is your “backstory”?
My work is seemingly figurative in form at first glance, but my artistic understanding is, in fact, closely tied to the very tangible on the one hand, and to possible doubts as to the truth of the belief on the other hand. My works do not represent the depiction of lifeless specimens; rather I aspire to explore the essence of the way we are, or we ought potentially to be. Hence I maintain an essentially conflicting relationship between classic sculpting and modernity.
I tend to show humanity through my own eyes as I am naturally bound to very personal distortion. Still, as a medical doctor, the human is always in the center of my creative ambition — I revel in the physical aspect of humanity, but also in the psyche of the nature of the flesh. A critical point for me is to unveil the magic of the human character in both its outer and inner form.
You might ask: why did I give up my career as a medical doctor (I was working as a general practitioner as well as psychiatrist for young adults) for the erratic life of an artist? Yet, looking back, I have found my medical training and practice very rewarding in my artistic world as I want to help and heal people. The more time I spent working as a doctor, the more I wanted to create art to reflect on what I was experiencing, particularly the essence of physical fragility, mental disorder and the deadliness of aging. My initial exposure to art was immediate and nonlinear. But I can tell you — I found my destiny through being a sculptor. Art can heal, it makes us go on living meaningfully, even enthusiastically. I am a sculptor dedicated to model the infinity of our existence.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Can you share a story about that?
My art is deeply autobiographical and grounded in feeling. I use what I see and experience. Lately forced inside by the pandemic, my compositions reflect experiences from my earlier encounters and journeys. My subjects are increasingly imagined.
I am perpetually drawn to all objects in my imaginations — from the seemingly nondescript to those of epic proportions. I observe them all closely, irrespective of whether they are ordinary or even uninteresting at first glance. These observations are a potential source of inspiration. Visual stimuli come in myriads of forms in life’s travels that made me a keen observer and allowed me to think more visually. Over the years, my experience in both science and life has taught me that our existence and options are infinite — if we allow them to be.
To give you an example of my creative process: I was brought up in Germany in a multicultural environment with Egyptian roots. Ancient Egyptian mythology was an important influencing factor. Starting from a spirited world of alchemical significance in my childhood, Transfigured Immortality is my current focal oeuvre. The piece originated in a phase of mourning after the death of a close Egyptian relative. I wanted to explore the essence of immortality omnipresent in ancient Egyptian thought.
Since antiquity bequeathing a legacy has been an intention of most humans: they have pondered upon this quest. Transfigured Immortality depicts a graceful lady — some might say an Egyptian Pharaonic queen — in the prime of her life, leaning on her last place of rest. She reflects upon the dark spots in life, like scattered light glistening from the deep, leading the way to the gate of the unknown. By accepting the world beyond, she illuminates her present life in dignity.
Death is not the end of life but rather the assumption of a different dimension. For me, fulfilment comes from accepting death and living a meaningful life. The shadows of Transfigured Immortality shall not fall backwards, nor turn into petrified minerals — it is the alloy that is coming to life, rising up, straightening out, becoming increasingly distinct. It is not eternal death but infinity that I try to capture in my sculptures.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am currently working on an oeuvre called The Fateful Choice. Deep in contemplation, a young woman is musing elation. Then awakening, frail, a stranger to herself. A knife held behind her back, she and the fatal tool are together, until only the memoir of her choice remains. We don’t know if she is aware of the consequences of her choice and the eventualities that may arise should she choose one action over the other. There is a vital dimension of her existence, particularly as she is potentially acting against her own nature. By making choices, she might ultimately lose access to her own source.
I am pondering on the question if we are going to be what we have envisioned to be. I leave my characters to the possibility of choices. The power to actualize themselves depends on those choices. In making them, human beings not only affect their own future but also that of humanity at large. We are responsible for everything we do, in a very existential sense.
The protagonist of The Fateful Choice is at a turning point of her life. We don’t know if her fate is drifting in the one or the other direction. A small shift and shiver can produce big changes in her life. The tragedy of human existence can be traced to fateful choices — the young women can turn the tide of her eternity, or she can vanish into estrangement.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
After a recent post on social media a follower enthusiastically sent a message thanking me for catapulting her into the outer space — she resonated with my sculptures in a congeneric manner, especially with the nonconformist interpretation of frailty and ordeal. And, as she said, it was the opportune moment enabling us to reach out to the invisible world surrounding us. She perfectly expressed what I felt when I created a piece called Interstellar Dilemma: A foot and a hand are moving together, apart. Seemingly rooted in the here and now, we seem to strive for distant elevation. Is there such existence as matter without energy, and Earth without the Divine? At the most evident level, the answer is plain. After all, what can we conceivably conclude about humankind’s perpetual search for selfhood, a search always dedicated to the desire to overcome death?
I was positively moved by our short dialogue. I became convinced that the mysterious beings that we are interacting with are not aliens, but rather our solemn companions. Transference and countertransference are natural parts of the encounter. Everything is connected. And art should be at the center of everything.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I had the privilege of meeting many extraordinary people in my life, from politicians to entrepreneurs and social activists, as well as fellow artists. They are all very inspiring. But what really touches me is to learn from people who are less known and less glorious, people who are dealing with their daily vexations — hard-working people in all fields. Those who firmly believe in what they do, without being necessarily acknowledged by or even known to the world.
I find inspiration in people whom I observe whilst sitting in a coffee shop or whilst waiting in line when checking out at the supermarket. I often muster all my courage and speak to them — the conversations are always very rewarding. Without exception there is something to learn from the people around me.
I met an elderly Italian lady in that way — a women who was seemingly at peace with herself. Instantly fascinated by this grand old dame as her face expressed humanness, I invited her to model. We didn’t speak much during the days of sculpting. I felt that she managed to give dignity to her life, fulfilling her potential — despite the often-sad reality of her daily grind. She was silently humming her melody of life whilst sitting on the chair in front of me.
The result is a piece of work I called Con Amore, with the subtitles allegro-adagio, vivace-grave, grazioso-espressivo — as the dame experienced all possible tempi and modulations life (and love) can offer.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
Personal experience is indeed everything. My list of 5 things doesn’t mean the same to others as it does to me — I am a sculptor and might be seen as not coming from this world. I am in fact a bit eccentric, but perhaps no weirdo. I just try to create the world that I perceive. But here we are, the 5 things I wish someone told me when I first started my journey as sculptor:
– Delve as deep as you can into the subject of your artistic investigation, go to the truth and not just to the truth of the surface. Dedicate yourself to the big questions of life and living. Endeavour to reveal the dissonances that your creations might contain.
– Work on your pieces virtually from within. Great works justify themselves not by reference to a theory but from the very appeal of their manifestation. Conceive your sculptures as lived emotion and not as mere decoration.
– Set everything free, deploy all your energy, live the creative process to the full. It will be rewarding — even though you will feel rather emaciated at first sight. But so exalted right afterwards.
– Always examine and refine your work but don’t lapse into the merely facile or skillful. Try to understand where you have fallen into a modelling pattern that doesn’t make sense so you can streamline it. You will feel when your work is sublimed. Just stop then and there.
– Create your works for the next generations and not just for the taste of the current collectors of art. Excel to the extent that your work continues to produce effects in the world even after you perish.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
As both sculptor and physician, I am apprehensive of the gradual human desolation. I ultimately want to offer a sense of purpose in an increasingly callous world. My work focuses on the singularity of humans and their individual potential of transformation as well as on the different processes that such transformation provokes.
Furthermore, my sculptures try to capture the moment when the invisible overtakes the obvious. Submitting to fate and having a sense of resignation can often be the norm, but if we can metamorphize these attitudes, we could be able to model the infinity of our existence. I wish my work to be timeless, profoundly reflective of existential arousal, such as desire and fulfilment to finally echo the poetry of life.
We often do not feel strongly enough that we are part of a larger world. Art can bridge differences and promote togetherness — as the ultimate force against ignorance and adversity. We human beings have to join hands in order to sustain and nurture our development into the future.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Artworks should not be created for museums alone, but rather for the profound interest of the people — a dedication which could be a manifest for our COVID-times. I want us to fill our homes and public places with statues of bronze and marble. We shall not just collect pieces of art but let them be part of our daily life. And yes, I want to inspire a New Periclean Age as I believe that contemporary sculptors can be the greatest idealist of our times, similar to their forefathers during the former Periclean Age of ancient Greece, in 500 BC. Modelling by imagination rather than by imitation of nature, sculptors like Myron of Eleutherae and Phidias of Athens were inspired to show the embedded roots and inherent values of their works — they discerned the Divine in the Human.
This classical age of Greece began after the turmoil of war when enlightened state-building led to the heyday of a golden century. The Periclean Age distinguished itself as a period of many firsts, in philosophy, politics and the arts. Pericles — a statesman, general and patron of art — thought to create the most advanced political community that the world had ever seen. In doing so, Pericles sought to realize humankind’s two great passions — namely, immortality and fulfilment. Artists were his closest allies to advance civilization and universal peace.
I want to help to trigger a New Periclean Age, an epoch where each individual fulfills a deep need, and is allowed to exercise a fundamental ability: to create and be creative. It is almost as if each time the creative individual is on the verge of eclipsing certain thresholds, counter forces rise up — perhaps a reaction to the strain in the grand scheme of things. Sculptors, in particular, could be the ideographs of this new idealist world.
We have been blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this.
Well, I want to invite two individuals — one from Germany, one from Egypt, reflecting my complex upbringings. It shall be an early breakfast meeting as I know that both are very busy people: Chancellor Angela Merkel from Germany and the Egyptian Nobel Peace Prize recipient Mohamed ElBaradei. I admire their idealistic yet pragmatic concept of humanity and disposition to join hands for peace. To me, both epitomize what leading by example means. Similar to Pericles, they postulate the collective longing for remembrance won through dedication to a cause beyond oneself. It will be an interesting power breakfast, as we might unite to conceptualize and advance the New Periclean Age.
We currently do not inhabit a magical epoch of universal beauty but rather times of uncertainty marked by wrenching upheaval — the pandemic is killing the vulnerable and provoking prolonged social and economic misery: it will leave the poor further disadvantaged. As in Periclean times, the sculptural arts will help to overcome social division and to advance the betterment of the world, with Angela Merkel and Mohamed ElBaradei being both patrons and avant-gardists of this deep-rooted idealism. We will agree that without imagination things are just things, and our being would have no sense of humanness. Sculptural art is the best antidote to the doom and gloom of daily life. Our breakfast meeting will set a historic milestone and launch the discovery of the New Periclean Age.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Readers can communicate through my website www.dr-gindi.com or Instragram @gindisculptor
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us.