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April 8, 2024

Art Abroad: Featuring Inji Elnadi

Landscape by Inji Elnadi, used with permission from the artist
By Emma Cordova


Student Blog

As previously mentioned in my post featuring the Destroyed City, I am currently residing abroad, and spending much of my free time exploring different avenues of art, spanning from commemorated sculptures to local finds.

During my week-long extravaganza in Turkey, I had the amazing opportunity to become acquainted with Inji, an artist who has been traveling the world for years. We shared a lovely meet-cute moment in an Istanbul cafe, and after seeing some of her art for the first time, I felt I had to share it here.

Aside from being an avid world traveler, Inji Elnadi is an Egyptian-Canadian artist, who creates her art using a multitude of materials ranging from acrylic paint to blowtorches and sand. My first feelings while combing through her art gallerywere awe at the sheer creativity that seemed to effortlessly emanate off of each canvas and print. My mind wandered through the array of colors–all splayed to create wondrous abstract scenes. While the technique and use of colors contributed to creating a grand picture, I felt layers of emotion breathing underneath that which could be immediately taken in.

This showing of emotion particularly struck me in her “humanity” pieces. My sights caught on her print, “Breakthrough”, and with every moment that passed, I created more and more of a story beneath the subject’s face. I imagined what she could have been screaming out about or letting go. I traced down her face, yearning to understand what kinds of sentiments lined her expression, and searched for any sign of it in her nearly black eyes.

I felt especially close to her nature pieces as well, as they reminded me of my own home in Oregon. The connection and creative illustration of nature and one’s connection to Mother Earth left me amazed, enough to leave a lasting impression. “Down to Earth” spells out the beauty and vastness of nature in the scene of a vibrant tree that takes up the whole scene, its trunk standing center and surrounded by wide flexed branches. I was particularly drawn to the naturalness of the tree’s texture, crafted with acrylic, pencil crayon, and oil pastel. The pairing of greens, blues, and browns with a more mystical palette illustrates a harmonious melody of nature. As a lover of nature myself, particularly with Pacific Northwest forests, this print captures the childlike wonder that adventurers welcome while existing amongst these feats of nature, rooted in unspoken wisdom we pray to have a chance to discover.

While I have tried to give a glimpse of the meanings I associate with some of Inji’s art pieces, her acceptance of true expression is a characteristic of her’s that I particularly admire and find intriguing. I, as a consumer of her art immediately attempted to find connections and themes in her art collection. After coming out with no leads as to a muse or theme, I asked her about this and was met with a response that showed me that I was looking at this all wrong.

“I really don’t have a theme. I don’t know if I need a theme and my brain doesn’t think that way”.

Throughout her art career, she has remained true to her expression, in whatever way that manifests itself. Each mode of creation she honors true as her rightful expression and “style”. Confessing, “One day I could be doing a landscape, and one day I could be doing a huge abstract mural”, I found no strict definition of Inji’s art. Her dedication to her creativity has always remained a priority, though it has not been easy. When speaking of her dedication to true expression as it comes, she labeled it as a struggle. When art consultors are telling you that success will only come with a signature style, what is there to do? A new world of questions open up: what exactly is the meaning behind creating this art? And to what extent can I cater my art to an audience without compromising the merit of the art itself?

And there lies what she calls “one of the biggest controversies in art”. Putting it perfectly she said:

“I love the paradoxes of art, it’s personal but for public consumption. It’s for me (self-expression,) but do I create it for others? I have always been rebellious at heart but stick to the rules to survive. EXCEPT for art”

From hearing these sentiments, I came to the understanding that I would not find a cookie-cutter explanation as to the rules and realities of making and selling art as an artist. The art-making processes and the realities that allow one to continue this endeavor are blurry and complicated. Only through asking questions have I found that the realities of an artist cannot be unveiled and transcribed for others’ understanding. Instead, they emerge like a mosaic– composed of creativity, expression, and connection with the intricacies of life’s parts.

While Inji’s art does not run on a main theme, or exist through a fixed expression, her lifestyle is certainly founded in key tenets, a primary one being ambition. Her strict adherence to self-direction and the potential sacrifice of conventional success it entails is a promise she wholeheartedly has made and continues to honor daily. By rejecting to conform to the mold external advice has offered her, only fulfillment follows.

Check out Inji’s art here at her website or on her Instagram @injiartistry.

I love the paradoxes of art, it’s personal but for public consumption. It’s for me (self-expression,) but do I create it for others? I have always been rebellious at heart but stick to the rules to survive. EXCEPT for art

Inji Elnadi

Featured Artworks Mention in this Blog Post

Down to Earth by Inji Elnadi, used with permission from the artist
<Breakthrough by Inji Elnadi, used with permission from the artist 
Landscape by Inji Elnadi, used with permission from the artist

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