• Laura Vautour

Islam Allam


Islam Allam, a self-taught artist and graphic designer living in Cairo, Egypt, creates portraits inspired by instrumental music tracks.


The rhythmic beats that come from digital sounds influence each of Allam's paintings. His work merges realism with modernism, solid colours and shapes fragment what the body wears and how the face is framed. His portraits are taken out of their original context and placed into a surreal, two-dimensional space. Allam's use of shadows and highlights are depicted realistically on the faces of the figures and the realistic representation furthers the individuality of each portrait. The figure's heads are wrapped with elaborate designs that reference hairstyles, headdresses, and hats. The traditional portrait pose comes through in Allam’s works, but he subverts the conventional representation of what it means to create a portrait. All of his digital paintings pair with a song that Allam listens to as he constructs the image and the natural drumbeats mixed with the digital processes are seen and heard throughout his work. The highlights depicted on the faces and the choices of bright colours replicate a club-like ambience. Allam bridges an auditory world with a visual one and encourages the viewer to listen to the music track by including the track name in his portrait titles.


The viewer takes in each facial feature of the portrait as we listen to the auditory track Allam provides. We are brought into the process and invited to ask questions about the subject between each portrait and their relationship with the artist.