CAIRO—When Ibrahim El-Bridy passed an old woman selling coloured cloth scraps in a market in El Marg district, northeast of Cairo, he never imagined her wares would change his life and career. But within a few years the popularity of the clothwork-on-canvas characters he created from the scraps enabled El-Bridy to win the 2017 State Encouragement Award in Arts.
El-Bridy, who is 58, was born in a small village in the Gharbia Governorate in the Nile Delta, where most of the inhabitants grow jasmine.
He went to Cairo to begin his career as a cartoonist but was not satisfied with the success he achieved in that arena. Then came the chance meeting with the saleswoman in El Marg. Her merchandise was attractively cheap; El-Bridy bought a two-kilogram bag for less than $1. At home, he laid the cloth in front of him. Several hours later, his first patchwork-on-canvas work was born.
El-Bridy created various shapes of cloth scraps on the canvases before colouring them. He presented the first of these works to his cartoonist friends. “Their reception was just amazing,” he told Al-Fanar Media at the launch of his recent “The Grand Night” exhibition at the Nout Art Gallery, in Cairo’s Zamalek district.