Nadine Abdel Ghaffar is passionate about fusing fashion, art, Egyptian culture- and presenting it to Egyptians and the world. Egypt’s seven-thousand-year history brings the northeastern African nation pride. Her platform, Art D’Égypte not only promotes Egyptian art, it also highlights Egyptian heritage sites. With public and private partnerships, Ghaffar has been able to shed light on the various historical heritage sites around the country.
Ghaffar’s journey into art started in her hometown of Alexandria, Egypt. “Alexandria was a beautiful cosmopolitan city. It was the pearl of the Mediterranean and I saw how it was going down the drain and I couldn’t do anything,” she remembers. Today, she’s passionate about uncovering historical Cairo before Egyptian eyes. Ghaffar got her start with organizing art exhibitions in Egypt and Dubai as a way to promote art and artists. Today she also promotes fashion designers and accessories designers as they too are artists of fashion.
“We’re trying to do something for the creative industry in Egypt through fashion, jewelry designers, and architects- we’re all collaborating and supporting each other,” she says. “A fashion designer goes through the same process as an artist because they all read, do their research and get inspired from all this heritage in Egypt and we’re lucky to have 7,000 years of history.”
“When I moved to Cairo I was asked to help with the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, a big beautiful 1902 building. At the time, it wasn’t in the best condition with poor lighting. So, I decided to put up this concept of Art D’Égypte and I created this company and I wanted to use my connections in a positive way,” recalls Ghaffar.
She decided to showcase the transcendence of contemporary art juxtaposed with antiquities. The first exhibition was inside a main hall with sixteen Egyptian artists and French actress Isabelle Adjani attending. “I had no team and I couldn’t afford anything and only had a few sponsors, with some coverage by the BBC and CNN.”
“I then started working at the Manial Palace, which is also a gated palace that’s huge and I started doing an art treasure hunt. People came from around the world and more and more people were involved with our community work. I started inviting art students who don’t know what contemporary art is because this isn’t taught in Egypt. We don’t have a platform for conceptional art and installations, but we have an abundance of heritage sites.”
“She really put us on the map with Egyptian art,” says Egyptian billionaire Samih Sawiris. “Nadine is showing another aspect of Egypt that many people do not expect. At the end of the day, we have been collectors of art for two-hundred years and we have one of the biggest treasures of the Egyptian government. It’s nice to have someone show the world that we Egyptians are as cultured as and sophisticated as other countries are.” he age of Covid sparked Ghaffar to want to give hope for humanity. “We are creating a curatorial board of American curators, French and other artists around the world as we spread the word about ‘Forever 2021,’ which is going to be the biggest international exhibition in October 2021. Museums, institutions, patrons, sponsors and artists should come from around the world to be a token of appreciation to humanity to Egyptian art and culture that has survived seven- thousand years.”
Helen LaFave, the Minister Councelor for Public Affairs at the United States Embassy in Cairo has been working with Art D’Égypte for three years now. “We have increased our connection with Art D’Égypte significantly this year,” she says. “This exhibit will include some American curators and American artists coming out to participate throughout the course of the year. Nadine has an interesting vision and it speaks to history, the culture and the longevity of the Egyptian civilization, as well as a modern mentality moving forward. Being able to think about things in this way with the great strengths of Egypt’s history is able to apart of Egypt’s future.”
When it comes to how fashion fits in with what Art D’Égypte is doing, Egyptian jewelry designer Azza Fahmy has jumped on board to support the organization. “Her work is not jewelry, it’s art. And she’s always inspired by spaces. Every year she dresses up our ladies in jewelry that is inspired by these spaces. This year it’s about pharaonic art. All her work is researched based as well.”
Farida Temraza is a young Egyptian couture designer, whose brand is named Temraza. A supporter of Art D’Égypte, Nadine calls her a bionic woman with an energy that’s found in the young generation of Egyptians.
Art D’Égypte continues to take bold approaches in bringing together fashion, art, and ancient Egypt history. On Al-Muizz Stree, a 1500-year-old street in Cairo, Ghaffar brought art onto the street. “For a year, we engaged with women artists and we did it on our own with only our auspices, with no support from anyone. It’s amazing how in three years this has grown organically.” She didn’t stop there. In another project, Ghaffar put art into one of the mosques on Al-Muizz Street. That project turned into community engagement of Egyptian heritage, and that’s how the organization got their patronage with UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).