Encounter with Bassem Youssri

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When I learned that an Egyptian artist in the name of Bassem Youssri was giving a talk on artists being labeled by the critics and the general public, my mind immediately recalled an article by Malcolm Gladwell on the influence names have on our life. I wanted to know if he was labeled as someone and if the stereotype has had an effect on his career. I routinely have trouble introducing my name to people I meet. More and more these days, the new people I meet are not Indians. It takes at least five minutes for them to get my name. It is a kind of a tongue twister. I have been thinking about this for a long time and decided to shorten my name to Mo Han. It will be two syllables and it will also be the first part of my real name. I wanted to know if Bassem has done any such jujitsu in his life.

Bassem turned out to be a great bloke. I discovered that he is a great person more than anything else. His installation in the museum is very four dimensional – in form and in time. We had a lengthy discussion about an individual’s identity to his/her geography and how it can have a profound influence on them as an artist. At the end Bassem suggested that I join his workshop and I would have requested that if he had not suggested that.

Well, if you are thinking that the bloke in the picture above on the phone is Bassem, you can’t be more wrong. It is another of my friend, Ray, in the workshop.

The workshop is still in progress and on my Day-1, I made a series of 13 terra cotta figures. At the end I had to string them together to have a story. It turned out to be quite hilarious. I am enjoying the workshop. Will post updates in a few days.

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And just to complete my evening’s work on Ray, here is his portrait.

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