Dr Gindi, a finite body in an infinite time

Beaufort 7 (2020)
In the midst of a successful 2021, with her latest sculpture, "The Fateful Choice", on display at Barcelona's Painting and Sculpture Competition, Dr Gindi has chosen to grant us a bit of her time. In the following interview, the Egyptian-born artist, currently based in Switzerland, touches on the relationship between her past life as a physician and her art, always set somewhere in between the hard ground of our world and the realm of the infinite.

As a doctor, she had to face the decay of the body and the mind. Now that she's become a sculptor, Dr Gindi aims at putting the finite human body in relation with the infinity of time, the faces she creates often gazing into both past and future. Born as Egyptian but raised in Western Europe, she blends the West's precise and realistic approach to the human body with the idea of an eternal existence, prevalent in ancient Egypt's society. Her bronze sculptures are firmly grounded on earth, yet, this nakedness of Man contrasts beautifully with the omniscient thousand yard stare in the eyes of her creations.


Dr Gindi, you were born as Egyptian but were raised and acculturated in Europe. Could you tell us more about the thrust of Egyptian civilization in your art? And how would you define the influence of other cultures and life experiences in your sculptures?


Coming from a diverse background and upbringing, I would certainly describe myself as a hybrid - yet I do not feel a border within me that would make me half Egyptian, half European. I am as a whole. My sculptures are without citizenship, they constitute their own universe, there is no physical anchoring in time and space. Most of my figures might even give the sense of being lost in space, looking out to the horizon like those Easter Island statues which seem to be longing for the sea. Such great yearning can perhaps be felt through ‘Transfigured Immortality’, one of my latest works. The protagonist, a Lady of Grace – some might say a Pharaonic queen – is gazing into the distance, she embraces the infinite expanse of the desert in front of her: the infinity of naught, the infinity of thought. A frame of mind where there is nothing – and everything. The ancient Egyptians believed that infinity would occur in the world to which they journeyed after death. We don’t really know why the Pharaohs built their pyramid-shaped masonry structures or why the early Easter Islanders undertook their colossal statue-building effort – but we know that life is a great discovery. That is the reason why I let my figures gaze into infinity, as in a vision.


The Fateful Choice (2021)



Thanks, that's an authentic alignment of your artistic provenance. Let me follow up on your whys and wherefores: What values would you like to express through your work? 


Well, the value of infinity, for me, is the ultimate state of mind we shall thrive for in our jaunt of being. I therefore engage in creating sculptures that question the currency of decay. It is not easy to reflect on our life in the middle of daily routine, but when death suddenly confronts us, when someone close to us departs, we are compelled to search beyond death for life, and beyond captivity for infinity. That is a search I want to encourage, now and always, not only when the gravedigger calls. I believe that life is endowed with peerless sanctity. By unravelling the ultimate infinity inherent with our own existence, we might be able to act composedly, and ultimately care for others. The fundamental revealing fact of existence is that we are compelled to ask ourselves what we really are and what we should be.


It seems to me that you let many experiences into your work, attainments too. Could you explain the evolution of your sculptures into morphological structures?


I don’t have a sort of traditional path as I was essentially educated as medical doctor. The transition from physician to sculptor was non-linear but rather natural, combining my knowledge of the human anatomy into the process of creating objects based on living souls. Being a physician-turned-sculptor, I form statues and figurines imbued with a certain ontological allure. In my work, the human body is both the subject and object of deliberation – I am excited by the eccentric nature of human embodiment enabling both the experience of the past, which is remembered, and the future that is intended - as we constantly take decisions in our life’s journey. As a physician I learned that we are living matter – sensing, perceiving and exploring – our morphological materiality makes us sensitive and, at the same time, vulnerable to the world.


Primordial Shelter (2013)


You once said that art makes us go on living meaningfully, even enthusiastically. Could you tell us a few experiences you have had with your audience which convinced you of this power of art? 


I always had this conscious thought that sculpting would be my everything, a sacred part of my life. As I moved on to become a full-time sculptor, I started to realise how integrated my feelings about the arts were. The sensual experience of my bare fingers touching the clay and the analytical experience of developing a deeper self within the characters I am sculpting - it was all becoming inextricable from who I was. And still, from my subconscious, combining my intimate knowledge of the human anatomy with the sense of viewing far-off existences, and to bring about something like a possible metamorphosis of my characters. Art is not just a random actor whom history may applaud – art can direct human transition into infinity. And art is not just an arena with a limited audience – art, in my understanding, shall reach everybody, shall shape our existence meaningfully, and yes, even enthusiastically. That is what I want to epitomize as the power of art.


Do you think the changes in our world, our societies and our lives lead to a loss of our sense of existence - a difficulty to understand what really counts? Or can we still enjoy the poetry of life?


Great question! Yes, the poetry of life is hard to provoke, but finally we can. Being can be a torture, mirroring unsentimental realism. We are alone, surrounded by emptiness. And we have to take decisions, always and everywhere. For pure survival. And sometimes for revelation. The characters in my works tap into this void, this cold space of detachment, they tap into both the personal and the universal as their daily chagrin, their endless choices are simultaneously taken by millions of people all around the world, slightly different of course, with varying undertones and narratives, thus unique existences. I want to exemplify this thought by my latest work, a life-size figure that is called ‘The Fateful Choice’.  A solitary female character holds a knife behind her back. Not sure, herself, about latent polarities and prophesies. With this oeuvre, I am pondering on the question ‘if we are going to be, what should we be’? I leave my characters to the possibility of choice between pique and poetry.


Interstellar Dilemma (2020)