Sculpting is an age-old medium of artistic expression. It allows the sculptor to depict a certain event or perhaps convey a message. Besides fulfilling its aesthetic purpose, sculptures are timeless. More often than not, they serve as relics for future generations to learn and draw inspiration from.
Unravel spoke with renowned sculptor, Dr Gindi, about her creations and how ancient history and current events have both shaped her work. A trained medical doctor, Dr Gindi harbours a craving for meticulous detail and it shines through in her creations. In her own words, she is absorbed in the “infinity of our existence,” and is as much consumed by triviality as she is by heroic individualism and redemptive languor.
Unravel: How would you describe your style of work? Would you categorise it under a specific genre?
Dr Gindi: My work is seemingly classical in form at first glance. I was educated in classic sculpting at the Florence Academy of Art and the roots of my artistic understanding are, in fact, closely tied to post-modern utopia – namely to its principles of factuality and fallibilism. I want to show the embedded roots and inherent values—including all abysses, chasms, and lingering qualms—of the pieces I am sculpting. My creations are evocative of an enigmatic universe, both in their shape and meaning. I have attempted to understand why certain phenomena appear as they are and why I interact with them in the manner I choose to.
The primary element for me has been to look at all objects in my surroundings with a keen eye, regardless of whether they are ubiquitous or uninteresting. They are all a potential source of inspiration. Visual stimuli come in myriad forms in life’s travels. It has made me more observant and allowed me to think more visually.
With my works, I want to create a cosmos with an inner logic. The choices I am making are the sine qua non of an endless journey. I begin to touch and form the clay. I make choices and see what happens. I stay in dialogue with my work. I am part of it.
Unravel: Every sculptor favours a material. In your case, why is it bronze?
Dr Gindi: Several substances are used for sculpting and in my case too, there has been a fair share of experimenting with various materials. Over time, I began to prefer working with bronze for two basic reasons. One, the durable and majestic character of bronze. There is a certain sense of timelessness that bronze sculptures tend to impart. Two, the alchemy of patination which symbolises the very transient nature of being. The hue it imparts to my creations are ideal; it furthers the story or the enigmas that I am seeking to unravel.
Unravel: Does your training as a medical doctor, in certain ways, overlap with your role as a sculptor?
Dr Gindi: My background as medical doctor and understanding of human anatomy definitely helps in achieving higher levels of detailing in my sculptures. The finer elements that impart authenticity are almost naturally accomplished and thus compelling in and of themselves. As an artist, I then apply the intertwined processes that create both human subjects and human objects. As a result, my works do not represent the effigy of lifeless specimens; rather I thrive in exploring the essence of human nature.
The impact of my medical training is hence visible on the metaphysical level as I want to give meaning to our existence. Let me explain this thought by drawing on Albert Camus’ novel La Peste – one that has left an indelible mark on my journey as an artist. The book’s protagonist—a medical doctor—was fully immersed in the forlorn treatment of his patients during the plague outbreak. Likewise, I feel that I need to engage just as deeply with my creations of art, empathising with the fragility of the way they are. As both artist and a medical doctor, I am apprehensive of humanity’s desolation. I ultimately want to offer a sense of purpose in an increasingly callous world.
Unravel: What whet your ‘artistic appetite’ to explore ideas of infinity and immortality?
Dr Gindi: I have been interested in creative expressions in one form or another for as long as I can remember. While infinity and immortality caught my imagination even during my younger years, I began dwelling upon it deeply as a freshman in medical school.
We are all bound together by the human question of origin and destiny. Over the years, my experience in both science and life has taught me that our existence and options are infinite – if we allow them to be. Submitting to fate and having a sense of resignation can often be the norm, but if we can metamorphosise these attitudes, we will be able to model the infinity of our existence. My training as a sculptor has enabled me to approach humanness more profoundly. Through working with models and meticulously exploring the human morphology, inner dialogues are evoked and reflected in my work.
‘Transfigured Immortality’ is my current opus magnum that explores an area that is on the periphery of immortality. It is one that most humans, since antiquity, will no doubt have pondered upon – of bequeathing a legacy. It depicts a graceful lady in the prime of her life, leaning on her last place of rest. Anticipating her death, she is shaping the future with a sense of purpose.
This piece originated in a phase of mourning after the death of a close Egyptian relative. I wanted to explore the essence of immortality omnipresent in ancient Egyptian mythology.
Unravel: As an Egyptian born, is ancient Egyptian mythology and art an innate source of inspiration in your creations?
Dr Gindi: Egyptian mythology is certainly an influencing factor for me. The ancient Egyptians’ attitude towards death was influenced by their belief in immortality. They regarded death as a temporary rupture, rather than the cessation of life. The mortuary rituals were intended not to glorify death but to celebrate life and ensure it continued.
Similarly, in my work ‘Transfigured Immortality’, death is not the end of life but rather the assumption of a different dimension. For me, fulfilment comes from accepting death and living a meaningful life. The pharaonic queen is still awake in our collective memory.
Unravel: How has COVID-19 and ensuing developments impacted your work?
Dr Gindi: What goes on in my subconscious might be reflected in my sculptures. And so, the pandemic has an undeniable influence on my delineation of art, particularly as COVID-19 seems to be the eternal return of the same scourge – think Black Death as depicted in Camus’ La Peste. With my sculptures, I don’t refer to concrete socio-political events but to the conditio humana in more general terms. The anecdotal gesture is not what I am endeavouring towards. I wish for my art to be infinite, profoundly reflecting existential arousals such as desire, fulfilment and death. The idea is to engage interlocutors with continued devotion for what really matters. The future is endless.