Egyptian-Armenian artist Chant Avedissian is a painter and textile designer. Motifs and bold colors play a significant role in his compositions, which introduce viewers to a kind of new “hieroglyphs” while re-introducing them to the ancient Egyptian ones that fill his backgrounds alongside geometric, floral and Ottoman patterns. Avedissian’s work in 1981 with the Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy (1900−1989) nourished his passion for local materials, pigments and urban themes. His clean and Japanese-influenced style, coupled with a unique use of stenciling, characterize his approach to narrating a visual history of Egypt that highlights both culture and nostalgia while introducing multiple layers of references to contemporary society and pop culture.
In the series Icons of the Nile, Avedissian adapts the language of billboards and advertising to depict iconic political, cultural and intellectual figures from twentieth-century Egypt — including King Farouk I, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Umm Kulthum and Abdel Halim Hafez — alongside more everyday but equally familiar images of a transforming daily life, consumerism, Arab nationalism and global influences and exchanges. Directly referencing Egypt’s past and present, Avedissian’s portraits resonate as symbols of how these icons have changed the cultural and political landscape of Egypt and the modern Arab world.