A Vanya Nikolaeva’s interview with the artist Mona Youssef
I am happy to present you Mona Youssef – an inspiring person and a wonderful artist, whose art lifts the spirit like a feather in spring.
Mona Youssef is a jury member of the international contest for visual arts “Light as Inspiration” (15 March 2010-15 April 2010), organized by the Sunflowers Art Association.
How would you describe yourself, Mona? What makes you unique?
Everyone is unique in his/her own way of perceiving matters, feeling and expressing them. So being unique does not make me any better than others. With this understanding I can freely say that I am very
compassionate person do whatever chose to do out of love and passion.
What makes me unique is
that I am very natural, spontaneous, very determined person, brave yet
shy, feel much for others, yet still use my brain (thinking ability)
when there is need.
Your first solo art exhibition was held in 1965, what are your memories of it?
Great memories! Actually, when I feel down sometimes, I think of those days and how, in a very young age, I was able to contribute the total income of my artwork, which included sculptures and paintings to
the Youth organization. You can see a smile on my face now writing this.
I must feel proud of myself!! I had worked for the whole summer holiday
full time producing all the artwork and was happy to contribute it.
In 2010 you will be exhibiting in London and Paris. In what direction has your art changed over the past years?
Since realism has been always my only choice to paint since childhood, It must have been some changes and improvement by now! I learned to free myself from photographs and create my own subjects,
compositions and apply the complimentary light. My realism style has
taken a very unique reputation as
stands out differently from all known traditional realism. I was told,
several times by jury, art critics and art Historians that my style is
like the thumb print which can’t be duplicated. Of course, I am happy to
received such compliments.
What made you become a jury member of the Sunflowers art contest Light as Inspiration?
First of all, I love to help and assist others with my time, knowledge and experience. I found that the project was very inspiring, for light is the main subject in my artwork. I focus on the importance
of light along with the shadows that complement its beautiful
counterpart. Also, I find The Sunflowers Contest well thought of,
organized and appealing by opening new avenues for artists. And lastly, I
was asked to take this assignment and with pleasure I have accepted.
What is light to life, to art?
In the absence of light there no life, as in the absence of life there is no art. They all are related, LIGHT, LIFE and ART. Can you imagine a painting with no light! It will be absolutely flat with no
depth. Light is the
essential element of bringing the beauty and depth of objects, their
forms and shapes. Simply, light adds life, soul and energy of the
matters / objects and they become art to us.
Why does art exist? What is it “purpose”?
I see art in the fullness of life and life in the fullness of art. Art for me is an expression of love. I have always perceive art as the important bond for our beautiful world. Applying art in our lives can
lead to the mutual understanding, respect and hold tight the values of
our world and cultures. I have always believed that art is a
manifestation of love, loving the nature around us and the people we
share our world with. Art is a powerful tool and a silent International
language that can convey messages to the world reflecting culture,
history and civilization. This language can speak up, announce, express,
make known, unify, bring together, support, encourage, share, care for,
show compassion and kind feelings toward all. When we truly love what
we do, we do it whole-souled and become professionals at it. In two
words; Art is to LOVE.
People can view my video for my full comment on what art is in our lives here:
You are an Egyptian living in Canada, worked as a graphic artist, exhibited in several countries, taught art… What are your most memorable moment(s) so far?
In each job I have done, I applied myself fully in doing my best, so I must have many memorable moments! Briefly, I can say, that every time weather was teaching art, working as graphic designer, commercial
artist, interior & exterior designer and painting, even was involved
in architectural presentations and drafting, there was always memorable
moments when received recognition or words of appreciation whether from
students, clients or viewers. To be more specific, there were two
occasions worth to mention.
1- When my dear Mother surprised me with the WHOLE SET of oil colors, brushes and canvases, at age of 12, seeing me persisting on painting and buying art supplies from my personal allowances.
2- When I went, in 1999, to the previous Prime minister of Canada Mr. Pierre Eliot Trudeau’s house and office and received a letter of thanks from him on my painting” The Canadian Constitution act” which I have
done in 1982. Why I was so thrilled? Because it took me about 18 years
to know how to contact him in order to have a better photo of that
painting. And because I was told, many times, that it was impossible to
contact him neither would he consider my request. But I insisted on
reaching my wish. The interesting thing was that I made it, got his
contact information, called to have an appointment and was welcomed
immediately. Coming back home with the letter of thanks from him was a
DAY OF MY LIFE!!
You acknowledge yourself as a daughter of nature. What have you learned from nature, what has it given you?
Nature has given me everything I have. The gratitude is to the creator of course. I am blended in nature, for what I see in nature is reflected in me and my artwork. I see nature as the very loving, tender,
happy and nourishing mother and I am the obedient daughter. I listen to
its voice, language and try to get closer for it is my best teacher. I
leaned from nature how things can be so different yet all can work
together in harmony. How things can be so sophisticated yet they look
very simple. How nature is opening its arms to all people yet only those
who understand it will enjoy it. When comprehending life, one can
easily connect with art in all its forms and understand the importance
of it. Nature speaks art in everything in it.
You say that “painting has been your ultimate joy”. You must be a very happy person then?
You hit the nail on the right spot. Yes, I am. Regardless of all what I have gone through in my life, I am a positive person and that comes from the inner happiness and the secure cheerful feeling nature gives
me. When it happens that sometime passes by and I do not paint enough, I
am not myself at all. You get the best out of me with my full energy,
when I paint enough.
Every morning… I exercise, determined to do something good for others and look at nature for new inspiration.
My day never ends without… listening to music, thinking of others and meditate on nature.
Last Art Exhibitions and Art Shows:
□ International exhibition, Gagliardi Gallery, Chelsea, London
□ International Exhibition “Art Shopping”, Carrousel du Louvre, Paris
□ International Art Exhibition “Biennale Chianciano” at The Art Museum of Chianciano, Italy My TV interview
The following link captures part of the Vernissage and Mr. Roberto
Gagliardi, the owner of the art Museum at the Vernissage and a group
interview including myself
□ International Art Exhibition “The Sounds of Arts”, Radisson SAS Falconer Hotel, Copenhagen, Denmark
□ Exhibition, The Studio Gallery at the Faculty of Education, Queen’s University, Kingston
□ International Art Exhibition, Germany, Leipzig
□ Art exhibition, 13th Bon Echo Art Exhibition, Cloyne, Ontario
□ International Art Exhibition Florence Biennale” Italy, Florence
□ International Art Exhibition “Landscapes”, Estense Castle, Italy, Ferrara.
□ Art Show, Cumberland Gallery, Centrum Boulevard, Orleans, Ontario.
□ Art Exhibition “Tulip Festival at the Westin Hotel” Colonel By Drive, Ottawa.
□ Art Exhibition “Rites of Spring”, new Gloucester Gallery, Orleans. Ottawa
□ Art Show & Sale, Glebe Community Centre, Ottawa, Ontario.
□ 23rd Juried Annual Arteast Art & Photo Exhibition, Ottawa, Orleans.
□ 23rd Rideau Valley, Juried Art Festival, Westport, Ontario.
□ Spring Award Show at National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.
□ Art exhibition, Cumberland Art Gallery, Centrum Boulevard, Orleans, Ontario.
□ Ottawa Art Festival, Aberdeen Pavilion, Lansdowne Park, Ottawa Ontario.
The above interveiw can be viewed on this link: