Nadia Gohar and Digital Mythology

A Visual Interview with the Toronto-Based Artist on Cyberspace, Collaboration, and Selling Out

  • Interview: Searching For Collective
    Images sourced online by Nadia Gohar

The Cairo-born, Toronto-based painter Nadia Gohar uses the classic genre of the still life to examine very modern questions of identity, nostalgia, and cultural dislocation. Her enormous, abstracted, and brightly-colored interiors are built on a wide foundation of references ranging from characters in mythology to André Breton’s second novel Nadja. Breton’s book begins with the most simple and existential question possible, “Who am I?”—an inquiry Gohar’s work also seeks to answer. 

The collective Searching For collaborated with Gohar recently in their ongoing project: a series of image-based interviews that use the mood board language of the creative industry as their main form of journalism. 

Why do you do what you do? How do you balance commercial success with maintaining a creative voice?

André Breton. Nadja, 1928.

Still from "إسماعيل ياسين في الاسطول," a film by Fatin Abdel Wahab, 1958.

Still from "Egypt," Kate Bush music video, 1980.

André Breton. Nadja, 1928.

Who have you taken inspiration from, both artistically and in terms of how they market/advertise their work?

Women of the Algerian War. Photographer unknown, 1954-1962.

Unknown image.

Do you actively market yourself? How? Has that changed over the course of your career to date?

André Breton. Nadja, 1928 (Arabic version).

Unknown archival runway image.

What has been the hardest decision of your career so far? The most rewarding? Were they one and the same?

Ricardo Leite, date unknown.

Jean Cocteau, 1962.

Do you think you have ever sold out? Is your relationship to money antagonistic or symbiotic?

Unknown image.

Zoumana Sane. Mami Wata,1987.

How do you use the Internet in your artistic and studio practice? Do you start with online inspiration? Or is it more of a marketing platform—for giving your work wider exposure?

Abdel Hadi El Gazzar. Lovers From Demons, 1953.

Shoppers struggling in the china department of Harrods on the first day of the sale. Date and photographer unknown.

What is your approach to collaboration—specifically with geographic differences?

Woman in Egypt's black desert. Date and photographer unknown.

Does this inform your practice? Do most of your collaborations happen in physical space or in cyberspace?

Max Ernst. Exquisite Corpse, 1927.

Albert Arthur Allen, 1920s.

What are you curious about in your peers? What should we ask the next person we interview?

Bill Traylor. Blue Cat, 1939.

  • Interview: Searching For Collective
    Images sourced online by Nadia Gohar