Nagib El Desouky – Untitled (2014)
I don’t think those who follows this blog suffer from any sort of illusion when it comes to this author’s infallibility. Between lapses in grammar, sensibility and taste, I fuck up more often than not.
One of those fuck ups was ignoring El Desouky when he submitted several of images to me roughly two years ago.
The mistake I made–unfortunately, one I make with alarming frequency–was to judge the work based solely upon whether or not it engaged me.
That’s not put as clearly as I’d prefer. Let me employ a metaphor: craft–being a strictly mechanical process–is something anyone can be taught in such a way as to eventually allow them to achieve mastery. Passion, however, is a different story.
I’m not someone who believes that passion is something either inborn with or you’re shit out of luck. But I object to the notion of passion be something–like craft–that can be taught. It doesn’t work like that. Perhaps a better metaphor is either that of the heroes quest, or what shimmers between this wonderful list of rules for education penned by John Cage that’s making the rounds lately.
Or, to put it another way: I don’t think art teachers owe their pupils only constructive criticism. Much the way a Buddhist novice must wait outside the monastery for three days without food, water or encouragement, if one or several instances of brutal criticism are enough to cause you to foreswear a creative pursuit, then don’t let the door hit you in the ass.
All this is to say that although I still find myself put off by most of El Desouky’s B&W work (this incredible photograph being a notable exception), his tentative forays into color are fucking stunning.
I regret that I didn’t recognize El Desouky’s intense and unflagging passion sooner. And I’m calling myself out on it in a very public way, in the hopes that I learn from the mistake instead of continuing to perpetuate it.