Huda Lutfi

Born 1948, Cairo, Egypt
Lives and works in Cairo, Egypt

By Isabella Ellaheh Hughes
Huda Lutfi is known for her multimedia works that deploy female archetypes to comment on history, culture and society, as well as contemporary events in the Arab world. A trained cultural historian as well as a visual artist, Lutfi’s work is distinctively multilayered, both aesthetically and metaphorically. Combining a multitude of styles and techniques to create a finished piece, she draws upon her academic background to mix symbols, images and events from Pharaonic, Coptic, Arab, Mediterranean, Indian and African cultures, often intermingled with text. The female archetype is revisited in Behind the Silver Window, where a narrow silver windowpane is placed against a painting that depicts iconic tarab performer, Umm Kulthum. The national icon from the Egyptian Golden era, is depicted as the equally iconic Statue of Liberty, which was originally supposed to be built at Port Said and depicts an Egyptian peasant woman. Arabic texts—lyrics from the Umm Kulthum song Atalal and a Sufi text by Al-Nihari—are embedded throughout the piece. Spread in different quadrants of this piece, multiple Umm Kulthums are punctuated by a series of disjointed arms, reaching out, as if trying to escape. Lutfi has exhibited internationally and holds a PhD from McGill University, Montreal, Canada, in Arab Muslim Cultural History.