Born in Cairo. He studied painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo from 1976 where he graduated from the Mural Painting Section 1981.
Between 1982 -1985 he studied at Accademia di Belle Arte in Roma.
Marouf lives and works in Cairo and Amsterdam.
Selected exhibitions :
"Muse" Ofok Gallery, Mahmoud Khalil Museum with the Italian artist Omar Galliani 2011, "Human body" Palace of Art 2010, "Contemporary views III" Al-Masar Gallery 2010, "Eighties" Ebdaa Gallery 2009, "Faces" Ofok Gallery 2009, "Gallery Salon 2" Palace of Art 2008, Luxor International Painting Symposium 2008, "11th Cairo Biennale", "100 Years Faculty of Fine Arts" Palace of Art 2008.
Marouf's first solo in Cairo was in 1989 at Nile Gallery - Palace of Art, followed by solo exhibitions at Mashrabia Gallery in 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2006, 2010.
Internationally, he has shown his paintings at Museum Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome - Institute du Monde Arabe, Paris - PAN Amsterdam, Kunst Rai, as many solo shows in Netherlands and Dubai.
Essam Marouf's artworks are part of various private, corporate and museum collections locally and abroad.
Field of Portraiture
The idea of transformation inside repetitions of the human face
By Fatma Ali
Artist Essam Marouf forces the viewer to intently gaze his portraits to examine their logic. In his technique Marouf does not follow the traditional rules of drawing or painting. He suggests a pictorial narrative of intersected and repetitions of physical and metaphysical images in his portraits of female sitters. His visible and invisible images are stirred up by colour, light and the space.
It is apparent that the artist has revealed an intellectually-suggested experiment to elaborate the mental image of the human face. He deliberately depicts the upper part of the sitter to defuse tension, which could be provoked by the intersected and overlapping relationship between the portrait and its dynamic visible and invisible images in the surface.
Marouf’s sequence of visible and invisible faces appears to be monitoring themselves and celebrate signs of idealism concealed beneath the layer of the colour. Marouf's face and its repetitions seem to be heaving a deep sigh. A deeper look will help the viewer to realize that Marouf's portraits are sad-looking.
On the other hand, the artist's intersected and overlapping faces give the impression that they are withdrawing into time. Their withdrawal is stimulated by the dynamic mental images; their directions and colour shades and scratches stimulate the feeling.
In the meantime, Marouf transforms his depiction of a woman's face on the surface to an icon, which so vividly revives innocent childhood, death and memory that it (the icon) stands for Life.
In his decades-long artistic career, Marouf has keenly introduced a simple understanding of Idealism highlighted in the image(s) of femme fatale. A repetition of faces stirred up by closed eyes reveal a kind of relationship of surprising collation of the visible and the invisible. Close look will draw the viewer's attention to a perceptible gap in the painting between his understanding of Life and Death. Perhaps, the artist attempts to break the boundaries of the intersected time and space, which are crowded with faces identifying the separation line of mental and physical presence. Marouf's faces refer to their mass withdrawal from the scene. However, they sometimes appear to be pictorial echoes of invisible images.
It is hard to fit Marouf's portraits into a particular artistic category. In his representational art, he combined Pop Art with realistic art. Also each piece of work represents an individual style of narration.
Marouf does not walk in the footsteps of Andy Warhol, who arranged, vertically and horizontally, in the silkscreen images of his famous sitters. Warhol’s brilliant use of different colours and his appreciation of their spaces and associated boundaries refer to an endless repetition of his images. It was Warhol, who condemns commercialism, which dominated the US in the 1960s of the 20th century.
Nor does Marouf seem to be interested in bringing about rhyming visual repetitions to draw the viewer's attention to his virtuous technique. He performs differently from Escher, who paid special interest to the regular evolution of different and intersected parts to crate a visual gestalt.
Marouf consciously studies the aesthetic sequence of the face. On the other hand, repetitions of his intersected elements create an inner rhythm, regardless of external chaos. The chaotic and random combination of elements bear signs of Rene Magritte in his Golconda (1953), which depicts identical men falling from the sky and receding back. Marouf 's technique in this respect also refers to the fractal theory, in which repeated shapes are exhibited at every scale.
Marouf would deliberately seek intersected, irregular patterns to break rhythm. Like Marcel De Duchamp's The Nude (1912), one of Marouf's portraits depicts receding visual patterns. But due to cleverly-assessed colour spaces, two portraits appear to be mosaic patterns. Under a deeper look these patterns would transform to spiraling depictions of faces revealing their inner thoughts and feelings. They sometimes seem to be a topography of water currents and ripples managed by a special law.
Throughout the history of optical representation, depictions in particular moments of our faces and their dynamic display of our feelings cannot be retrieved or evoked. Like his ancestors, who pictorially hunted the ox on the walls of the cave, Marouf explores—in the portrait—the persons psyche and inner thoughts.
The emotional intensity in Marouf's portraits appreciates our understanding of the Death—without touching its physical reality. His portraits depict human representations falling into a trance and giving in to emotional moments discerned in the woman's face.