Youssef Nabil began his artistic career in 1992, when he photographed a group of friends recreating scenes from the mid-century golden era of Egyptian cinema production. A child of the black and white and hand-colored films and posters of the 1940s and 1950s, which influenced his technique and concepts, Nabil invites his subjects to be part of the world he creates, which is saturated with beauty and nostalgia.
An aura of longing, dream, death and life come together in Nabil’s tableaux, which are charged with both the imaginary and the real. Ever aware of the mendacity and temporality of life, his fascination with death and with how everything is destined to end generates a sensitivity that Nabil holds onto in his desire to immortalize the living. Through his work, Nabil reflects on the beauty that he sees in everything and everyone as he looks beyond their wrinkles and imperfections. In You Never Left, Nabil challenges the conventions of self-portraiture. The video is an expression of his endless nostalgia for an imagined lost home, combining old with new and beauty with chaos. You Never Left positions the portraiture of life within death and vice versa, reflecting on momentary existence and on the death of these moments, for Nabil sees himself as merely a passerby. The relationship between leaving one’s country and dying that Nabil explores in this work results in a piece that communicates with the viewer on various levels, bridging what is real and what is longed for. Nabil’s work thus invites viewers to surrender to life as if it were a dream that we are all destined to leave, a reality built from imagination and emotion that one is powerless to change, and yet cannot be avoided.