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Mosaico Oggi: Interview with Mohamed Banawy

Mohamad Banawy “Abstract 3″ 2010 80 x 80 cm Clay, glass.

We’d been corresponding with mosaicist Mohamed Banawy for several months when MAN contributor Luca Maggio offered us an interview he had recently done with this exciting Egyptian artist.  We jumped at the opportunity to reprint the article, for Maggio had managed to ask almost every question we had for an artist whose work intrigues and absorbs us.  Thank you, Luca.  Enjoy – Nancie

Mosaico oggi: interview with Mohamed Banawy

by Luca Maggio

Mohamed Banawy (Egypt, 1977), what was your course of study? Painting? Sculpture? How did you come to discover mosaic?

I was born in Al-Sharkia-Egypt in 1977. My father was an Art teacher in our country and he was a caricature artist as well. When I was a child, I used to watch him painting people and landscapes and this made me curious to use those pens and colors. In truth, my father was my first teacher.

I joined the Faculty of the Fine Arts-Helwan University in 1995 where I studied painting and sculpture for the first two years. While in the Painting Section, I learned how to use oil, water and pastel by painting the people and landscapes of Old Egypt.

Mohamed Banawy “Public Market 2″ 2007 120 x 120 cm Oil, pastel.

During my last two years at the University, I joined the Section for Mural Painting where I studied Mural designs, Mosaic and Stained Glass. It was during this time that I became really fond of mosaic. For my Graduation Project I designed a huge work in mosaic that expressed the Great Egyptian Civilization. I received the Bachelor in Mural Art in 2009 with Excellence and was the top of my class. In 2001, I was appointed a Lecturer to the Faculty.

Mohamed Banawy “Landscape 1″ 2010 80 x 80 cm Stone.

In 2005, I received the Creativity State Prize (Rome Prize for Creativity) in mural painting. It is a prize that is given by the Egyptian Government for innovation in the Artistic fields and with it comes a 15 month residency in Rome at the Egyptian Academy for the Arts there. During this period, I learned a lot about Italian arts and culture by visiting the famous museums of Rome, Florence, Venice, Pisa, Ravenna, etc.

Mohamed Banawy “Landscape 2″ 2010 47 x 52 cm Stone, glass, copper, cement.

This was my real starting point to work in mosaic. I started to feel as if I were playing with mosaic tesserae – constantly thinking about how to arrange, gather and separate them, thinking in their soft and scratchy textures, thinking about how to use their light effects and many other artistic values.

Clay, glaze fragments and especially stones cut in the shape of squares are hallmarks of your mosaics. I find your works very interesting and original, in particular the “Abstract” and “City” series because they don’t want to be painting or sculpture but simply mosaic. They appear to be visions of territory taken from a distance, almost out of a plane. Can you explain your way of interpreting the mosaic?

Being one of the basic elements of Creation, The Mud (clay) is the secret of life and its eternity . . . from Mud, not only Mankind is created, but everything else as well . . . When I am forming units of Mosaic Mud, I feel warmth and as if I am a part and parcel of this great Universe; these units are the Great Egyptian Heritage.

Mohamed Banawy “Abstract 4″ 2010 100 x 100 cm Clay, glass.

Actually, I can see the whole world and feel it, once my eyes are falling on a huge mosaic panel, that was formed unconsciously – with no intention at all – in which all the creatures played a role. Two of these creatures are the Goodness that builds the cities and the Evil that destroys them.  As when we build a house or plant a tree or when we have a demonstration – what we are doing is putting a piece or some stones to create a huge panel. Same as when we destroy a house – we participate in a particular change in its texture by applying some different tentacles and spaces that should happen as if they are destined to be there. That’s why I see the world as a mosaic panel where its features are continually changing as they have since the Universe was created and will continue to change until Resurrection.

Mohamed Banawy “City 1″ 2011 49 x 49 cm Clay, glass, cement.

I am very fond of high places and I enjoy watching cities from above or from an airplane. During my travels, these shots and scenes that I have observed have become stuck into my head. This is the main inspiration behind the epic scenes in my work.  The small, crowded units (tesserae) that are spread beside or inside the big ones in my mosaics express scenes in which some of our crowded, poor districts are found next to the rich, classier ones. Every unit is in fact a person, a car, a house, a factory, etc.

There is a special technique that I am using in the Abstract mosaics which is emptying the stones and the ceramic that appear very smooth and soft and substituting them with some scratchy stones; keeping in mind; inserting them with different drifts, colors and textures. This technique was inspired by an architectural restoration that I saw once in Pisa, Italy where they were restoring an entire house from the outside, with regard to keep some small spaces that would show the stones used in the process. These stones were really amazing especially when the sun light was falling on them.

Mohamed Banaway “Abstract 1″ 2009 80 x 80 cm Stone

During the International Festival of Contemporary Mosaic of Ravenna in 2009 and 2011, your work (a sculpture mosaic) was exhibited and there were also other Egyptian artists, for example Nermine Al-Masry, Safaa Abd El Salam and Mona Magdi Kenawy. Do you know them? Have you seen the ancient monuments of Ravenna? Do you know any of the contemporary mosaic artist of this town?

Surely, I know those artists especially Nermeen Al-Masry (she is one of the teaching staff at my Faculty). In addition to the artist Mona Magdi Kenawy, whom I met during the Alexandria International Symposium for Sculpture in Natural Materials – Sculptural Mosaic. Also, the artists Elaine Goodwin, Manfrid Hoon and Mohamed Salem.

I visited Ravenna in 2006, but unfortunately, the trip was very short. I did visit the Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, San Vitale and the Museo d’Arte della Città di Ravenna. I did not meet the contemporary mosaic artists in Ravenna in person, but I am definitely tracking the contemporary mosaic movement through their work.

Mohamed Banawy “Family” 2009 200 x 80 x 40 cm Porcelain, stone, cement.

Your country is in a time of great change. Do you think that all this can affect your work? What are your plans for the future?

My work Douar Misr (Tahrir Square) is about the Egyptian Revolution of the 25th of January 2011. It shows the Egyptian attitude in the square that day, beginning with the crowds gathering in the center and then spinning out to defend their rights.

Mohamed Banawy “Douar Misr” (Tahrir Square) 2011 200 x 200 cm Stone

I am trying to open new and updated areas for the non-traditional forms of mosaic surfaces based on a study of the artistic features and technical methods of mosaic.

My artistic experiment is based on forming the traditional materials, using different rules and systems, in addition to create new forms of mosaic units. I would like to do a special exhibition in Ravenna soon.

My wife, Marwa is also a Mosaic Artist and has participated in many exhibitions. We are married since 2005 and we have a beloved beautiful daughter Silwana. They both are the best thing happened and still happening in my life; God bless them. Marwa helped me a lot in my work and she is encouraging me to be improved. Being a mosaic artist has the artistic point of view that can criticize my work constructively. I took her comments seriously and I trust her opinion so much.



Mohamad Banawy "Abstract 3" 2010 80 x 80 cm Clay, glass.


Mohamed Banawy "Public Market 2" 2007 120 x 120 cm Oil, pastel.

MohamedBanawy_Landscape1_2010_ 80x80cm_stone

Mohamed Banawy "Landscape 1" 2010 80 x 80 cm Stone.

Mohamed_Banawy_Landscape2_2010_47x52 cm_stone_glass_copper_cement

Mohamed Banawy "Landscape 2" 2010 47 x 52 cm Stone, glass, copper, cement.


Mohamed Banawy "Abstract 4" 2010 100 x 100 cm Clay, glass.


Mohamed Banawy "City 1" 2011 49 x 49 cm Clay, glass, cement.

Mohamed_Banawy_Abstract1_2009_80x80 cm_stone

Mohamed Banaway "Abstract 1" 2009 80 x 80 cm Stone


Mohamed Banawy "Family" 2009 200 x 80 x 40 cm Porcelain, stone, cement.


Mohamed Banawy "Douar Misr" (Tahrir Square) 2011 200 x 200 cm Stone





Mohamad Banawy "Abstract 3" 2010 80 x 80 cm  Clay, glass. Mohamed Banawy "Public Market 2" 2007  120 x 120 cm  Oil, pastel. Mohamed Banawy "Landscape 1" 2010  80 x 80 cm  Stone. Mohamed Banawy "Landscape 2" 2010  47 x 52 cm  Stone, glass, copper, cement. Mohamed Banawy "Abstract 4" 2010 100 x 100 cm  Clay, glass. Mohamed Banawy  "City 1" 2011  49 x 49 cm  Clay, glass, cement. Mohamed Banaway "Abstract 1" 2009  80 x 80 cm  Stone Mohamed Banawy "Family" 2009  200 x 80 x 40 cm  Porcelain, stone, cement. Mohamed Banawy "Douar Misr" (Tahrir Square) 2011  200 x 200 cm Stone Mohamed_Banawy_Tahrirsquare_detail DSC05070

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  1. Mohamed Banawy

    See more in my new website

  2. Jihan

    Greetings from Dubai…
    Mr. Mohamed Banawy, your mosaics are very distinctive & unique pieces.
    I really enjoyed reading your interview & got to have an interpretation of your works.
    I found it amazing how you got inspiration from watching cities from above or from an airplane & created a bird’s eye view of these scenes – very creative indeed!
    I also found your piece “Douar Misr” very powerful with a strong energetic force in it.
    Congratulations for all your wonderful achievements. Looking forward to seeing more of your dynamic pieces.
    God bless your family.


    • Mohamed Banawy

      Dear jihan , thank you, I am so glad to hear such words from you,gives me great pleasure. My very best to you and your family

  3. Margy

    Mohamed I saw your work at the Venice Biennale last year. If it had been the only piece I saw at the Biennale, it would have made my visit worthwhile. I could not take my eyes of your wonderful abstract and felt it hard to walk away from the piece. It is so wonderful the read this interview and learn something about you and your loved ones. I will continue to follow your work with great interest. I hope to see more and more.

    Thank you Nancy and Luca for bringing us this inspiring story.

  4. Jacqui Douglas

    I very much enjoyed this interview and wish to thank Nancie and Mona for introducing me to the exceptional and insightful Mosaic Art of Mohamed Banawy. I find the sculpture “Family’ to be most interesting and the use of contrasting materials tell the Family story in a very intelligent way. The Big, the small,the rough the smooth, the depth of colour and the light moments make this Mosaic to me thought provoking and exciting. I wish I could stand in front of these wonderful works. I wish you well with your future Mosaic endevours Mohamed and await more surprises.

  5. Marwa Farrag

    I am proud enough to hold the name of this man..♥♥.., he is not only excellent in the Mosaic Art, but also he has more excellency in the arts of life, feelings and love.

    I wish that our beloved daughter will inherit both your artistic and human features.

    May God bless you both for me..♥♥..

    • Nancie

      It sounds like you have a beautiful and talented family, Marwa. Warm regards, Nancie

  6. Adriana Mufarrege

    “Douar Misr” is an art lesson about how not to be obvious when recreating a political or historical event. Mr. Banawy: you’re a master. Greetings from Argentina, southamerica.

    • banawy

      thank you Adriana Mufarrege , You are a person of insight into.
      Greetings from Egypt

  7. Carole Choucair Oueijan

    Mohamed, I really enjoyed reading your interview and discovering your beautiful work!
    I visited Egypt once, 22 years ago. Spending our Honeymoon there will never be forgotten.
    Admiring your work, I can feel the earth and air of Egypt. Congratulations on a very successful journey.
    I loved in particular “Douar Misr”… It is so powerful! I can feel the crowd and their words out loud! Mabrook on all your accomplishments!
    Thank you again Nancie for sharing!
    Carole Choucair Oueijan

    • banawy

      thank you Carole Choucair Oueijan , A great thing to hear this talk from you , you must back to egypt again , i hope we are on a successful journey.

  8. banawy

    Dear Nancie and Luca,

    I would like to thank you so much. I am really happy that my mosaic is now breathing by being shown in Media in that way and I am proud to be interviewed by you. Thanks again.

    Warm regards,

  9. Nouran Shalash

    Dr Mohamed Banawy is my professor at the university..more than wonderful work reflecting such a deep vision and adding new concepts to the Mosaic art in Egypt..

    • banawy

      Dear,Nouran,thank you ,I wish you progress and success in (your) study

  10. John Botica

    Dear Mohamed,

    Your work is truly beautiful.I found it very special.Where there is artistic excellence there is human dignity.I can see both in your works….
    John Botica

    • banawy

      Dear , John Botica
      thank you,It’s amazing words … I’m very happy

  11. Lillian Sizemore

    i love the raw earthy quality of this work, esp. like “city”. Banaway captures the aerial element of many archaeological layers of history. Also responding strongly to the “Tahrir Sq.” not only for the geometric reference of expansion, blooming and growing, but the scale and what this piece represents for the Arab Spring, and potential for the future by looking to the past with this archetypal form. I agree with what Mona said above. Bravo Mr Banaway! Grazie a Luca e Nancie!

    • banawy

      dear, Lillian ,You are really creative,Your deep analysis,Thank you very much,thank you Luca and Nancie

  12. Mona Magdi Kenawy

    Mohamed is really from the distinguished mosaic artists now in Egypt..we met at the 4th International Symposium of Sculpture in Natural Materials ( 3D Mosaics ) in 2009 and worked side by was a very meaningful experience for all the partecipants from Egypt and abroad..Egypt is the land of art and civilization..I hope all the best for Mohamed and the few contemporary “STRONG” mosaic artists in in many other parts in the world – not anyone working with tesserae is a mosaic artist!

    • banawy

      dear,Mona, thank you for everything,I was so happy to hear those words from you,Happy times ago at the 4th International Symposium of Sculpture in Natural Materials,thank you again , I hope for you every success

  13. Marcelo

    A very creative use of tesserae and andamento. ‘Abstract 3′ is my favourite. It reminds me so much of my trip to Egypt years ago. Congratulations!

    • banawy

      thank you Marcelo,You are welcome in Egypt always,Greetings from Egypt

  14. Amal

    An Egyptian myself, and an amateur mosaic artist, I was delighted to find this article about an Egyptian mosaic artist! Thank you for sharing this wonderful information.

    • Nancie

      Egypt has a large and exciting mosaic community, Amal. You are in good company!

    • banawy

      thank you Amal , I hope for you every success

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