After a dedicated corporate career, Neamat El Diwany is nurturing her artistic talents in search of a new voice to convey her messages. By Farah El Akkad Photography by Hayssam Samir
Neamat El Diwany spent the last 20 years of her life working as a Research Director at the American University in Cairo. It was only a couple of years ago that she made the decision to revive her long-forgotten talent and follow her dad’s wish of becoming an artist.
Born in Havana, Cuba, El Diwany spent her childhood visiting art galleries in Rome, Florence and around Europe with her father who worked as a diplomat. “My dad was always very keen to feed me different artistic tastes wherever we went,” El Diwany recalls. Throughout her childhood and adolescent years, El Diwany’s father always encouraged her to pursue art school. “I loved art and I would usually spend my free time painting, but I had other plans and I was what you would call a rebel but now I understand, this is what I should have done a long time ago. Sadly he did not live to see it,” she says.[caption id="attachment_496008" align="alignnone" width="618"] Neamat El Diwany[/caption]
El Diwany chose to study business administration at the John Cabot University in Rome, only painting during her leisure time, with her father’s comments always in the back of her mind - “you should have gone to art school, you must paint because you have a real talent.” When she moved back to Egypt in 1984, she chose a career at the U.S embassy and later at AUC.
In 2011, she made some time to study photography, joining El Razaz Art Studio two years later, where she continues to study photography today. In summer 2015, El Diwany decided it was the right time to study art.
“I worked in a very tough corporation, there came a time after my dad passed away, and I was still taking care of my mum. I felt I did not want this kind of corporate life anymore. I need to be in a world of my own,” recounts El Diwany. And so she traveled to Florence to study the history of art at the Florence Art Academy.
Having participated in more than 30 exhibitions in the past two years; Art of the World Exhibition in Sahl Hashish (February 2014), El Sakeya Salon, Beit El Seheimy (December 2014), Austrian Cultural Forum (March 2015) and the opening of Creative Egypt Project (September 2015), El Diwany did not want to launch her solo exhibition before finding that certain message she wanted to deliver. “Every exhibition I participated in was equally important to me because each painting is part of who I am, even if with just one painting,” she explains, adding that, “Art is the essence of soul and makes people see the beauty in things.”
Last month at the Gezira Art Center in Zamalek, El Diwany finally held her first exhibition, displaying more than 30 oil paintings from her collection: “And the Dialogue Continues” dedicated to her late father. The paintings displayed all feature the same elements; a young girl, flowers, birds and gardens.
After El Diwany’s father passed away, she found herself spending a lot of time working on many paintings with only two main features: a young girl and a bird. “It felt like this is the message I want to convey, a message of love and gratitude to the man who saw something in me and today I am making his wish come true.”