Sabah Naim (b. 1967) is an Egyptian post-war contemporary media artist. She lives and works in Cairo, where she obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Fine Arts, and completed her PhD focusing on the human body in contemporary art, from the College of Art Education, Cairo (1990, 1996 and 2003 respectively). She was a student of Egyptian artist Mohammed Abla.
Sabah’s key source of inspiration is the anonymity of Cairo’s streets and its passers-by; she examines both substantial reality and the make-believe world, taking her camera on walks around the streets to snap photographs from special angles. Her photographs capture people’s faces and their expressions, and scenes of the markets, mosques, and traffic-filled roads of Cairo, which serve as raw material that she reworks into photographs. She often enlarges her work, printing it on paper or canvas and treating it with an extremely delicate and refined addition of colour.
Sabah recently introduced embroidery into her work, pushing her images into three dimensions. Combining photography with hand-painted motifs, she questions binaries such as contemporary and traditional, masculine and feminine, fine art and craft. Her works are located in the permanent collections of the British Museum in London, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture and in the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art in Cairo.
By Nicole Georgette Osei