With her art being bought by Qatari Princes and murals having lined the walls of Ministry buildings, it is clear that Tasneem Meshad has a great deal of talent. But meeting in her Maadi studio, filled with art supplies and bean bag chairs, with her daughter creating stunning drawings as we talked, it was her humble passion is what comes across the most.
“I paint what I feel, and because it is genuine, other people can feel it too.”
Looking at her work, the first thing we are struck by are the colors and the shapes, “I am well known for my use of colors, people feel happier because of the bright colors I use.” Tasneem’s sources of inspiration are behind this love of vibrance, “I have always been inspired by India and their combination of art and drama, everything feels like a fusion of flavor and color. This plays a large part in the warm colors that I use. I paint what I feel, and because it is genuine, other people can feel it too,” Tasneem reveals.
Despite the bright colors in much of her work, Tasneem has produced some deeply sombre and reflective work over the years. “I worked on pieces for an Austrian exhibition called Colors of Freedom just after the Revolution. We all needed that project to express the overwhelming emotions we were feeling. I dedicated my pieces to the Photographer and Artist, Ahmed Bassiony who was killed during the Revolution, with a series of portraits of his face, each one deteroriating to tell his story.” The impact of them was profound, “people seeing this exhibition in Austria saw Bassiony’s portrait and began to ask questions about his story,” Tasneem tells us.
“Art is so important for giving the mind balance.”
Having worked for many years as an art teacher, Tasneem has seen the positive impact that art can have on young people. “Art is so important for giving the mind balance. To be a successful and happy human being you have to use both parts of your brain, which means that it is vital for young children to explore creativity.” As Tasneem herself discovered her artistic talent from a very young age, “from the age of 6 or 7, I would recycle everything and turn anything into art,” she recognises the need of feeding creative potential in young people.
“Without taste we don’t see the beauty of our history and culture.”
According to Tasneem, the power of art is substantial and it comes down to a seemingly simple idea, “Taste! It is all about taste. It isn’t just about how you dress; it isn’t superficial; it is about appreciation and awareness. Without taste we don’t see the beauty of our history and culture. Art can be a cure to help people fall in love and take care of their country,” Tasneem explains. During the Revolution, Tasneem along with artists under the name of ‘Colors of Egypt’, painted murals on the walls around Cairo; “art was brought to the people and it involved the people and it gave them hope. If you give less privileged people art material they create the most amazing and real pieces because they express themselves. This helps them to understand taste and teaches them to care!”
Knowing no creative bounds, Tasneem is currently embarking on an exciting new project with a friend, recycling old furniture, and with the help of a carpenter, completely transforming the pieces into pieces of functional art. Not only is this a way for her to create her art in a new medium, with the high costs of imports, she hopes that this form of recycling will save people money. “It also brings together different types of crafts, we go to local people for certain materials for the furniture, helping to stimulate the local craft economy,” Tasneem explains.
Find her on Facebook here and Instagram @tasneem_elmeshad