About The Work
Everything is finite, yet you can live forever in a photograph. As with the very nature of photography, Nabil is well aware of immortalizing a moment by tapping into his subject's power, beauty, or a cliché. Youssef Nabil's signature portraits are carefully constructed presentations in which Nabil controls every nuance and circumstance while the subject gets to dream and often confront the viewer's gaze. After capturing the image, he expertly applies a wash of 'lifelike' transparent paint on to black and white gelatin prints in the style of traditional hand-painted Egyptian movie posters of the 1950s. The resulting photographs are simultaneously contemporary and remnant of a glamorous past.
Born in Egypt in 1972 and based between New York and Paris, Youssef Nabil grew up in a Cairo drenched in the golden age cinema of Hollywood on the Nile: a black and white film world in which he nostalgically recalls the glamour, the ease, the elegance and the melodrama. His photos evoke the deliciously outmoded feel of the photo-novels that accompanied cinema at the time and highlight in each portrait the extraordinary character of his models, distinguished artists, actors, and friends and himself in his series of self-portraits.
Three monographs have been published on Youssef’ work –Sleep in My Arms (Autograph ABP and Michael Stevenson, 2007), I won't let you die (Hatje Cantz, 2008) and most recently, a self-titled monograph Youssef Nabil published by Flammarion (2013). In 2010, the artist known for his work combining photography and painting presented his first film You Never Left, an 8-minute piece with the actors Fanny Ardant and Tahar Rahim. In 2015 he showcased his second film called I Saved My Belly Dancer, a 12-minutes piece featuring Salma Hayek and Tahar Ramin.
The Third Line is a Dubai-based art gallery that represents Contemporary Middle Eastern artists locally, regionally and internationally. The Third Line also hosts non-profit, alternative programmes to increase interest and dialogue in the region.