Portraits of overweight ladies, laughing, playing, and enjoying their time, with blazing florescent colours: this is the main theme young artist Esraa Zidan adopts in her paintings, aiming to reflect another side of the usual mainstream beauty concept.
Zidan, 28, is an assistant teacher at the faculty of applied arts. For years, she has witnessed that the definition of beauty is always portrayed through super skinny models, with ideal figures and perfect features, which is far from reality. Aiming to correct the beauty concept people started adopting, Zidan’s illustrated world, with women heavier than average in weight that are happily peaceful with their appearance, was the core of her drawings for the past couple of years.
“Obese women’s allure is wasted in this world,” Zidan started her talk by saying, “Scrolling through social media, TV, or any publication is enough to get them into deep depression. Being surrounded with one beauty perspective, which showcases only super skinny models as glamourous icons is not fair.”
Preparing her PhD on women who are portrayed in art in unique usual measures, Zidan found that few fat women are showcased happy in portraits.
“Nowadays, everything is dedicated and specially designed for bony women. Fashion, clothes styles, and sometimes even accessories. Even chubby, or normal females feel like they do not fit in the global trend,” she explained.
Despite drawing only curvy women, Zidan does not believe women should be so, “I’m not encouraging females to gain weight, I’m only saying they should be happy, even if they are,” she explained.
From her point of view, the only scale women should really care about, is their self-satisfaction one, “that is the most important one I believe they should pay attention to,” she added.
In her drawings, Zidan focuses on featuring overweight women with free spirits, dynamically active in signing, swinging, dancing, bathing, or even playing in a park.
Adding life to the painted vibrant spirit, florescent colours are a main attractive element to the portraits.
“Through my paintings, I like to draw a world where colours are the main dominant surroundings, and laughs are the most heard sounds in it,” she adds with a smile.
In this world, Zidan tends to escape the real one, which with all the dirt, ugliness and people’s scowls, she believes she does not belong to.
Bright colours is one of the criticised elements Zidan has been receiving by colleagues. She explains that they were always taught in school that the excessive use of colours, is an attempt to distract the eye away from the flow of lines which are the real talent factor. Breaking the rules for drawing her “happy world” was a must for Zidan.
“How can a happy world, with only loud laughs and vibrant activities not include vibrant colours!” she exclaimed.
Using blooming fuchsia, red, and blue, are the main theme colours of Zidan’s illustrations.
Zidan’s latest exhibitions named “The Rainbow’s Neighbours” includes over 60 portraits. From small-sized sketches to large paintings, Zidan filled the walls of Zamalek’s Azad Gallery with paintings of optimistic overweight ladies.
“It took me a long time to come up with a name. I knew that colours are the most vibrant element of my paintings, so the name had to be connected to it. Nonetheless, I was not sure what to name these beautiful overweight ladies I fell in love with while drawing,” she explained.
The Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish’s writing, “The Beautiful Ones” was the poem which inspired the name Zidan chose.
“In his poem, Darwish says that all women are beautiful, which is the exact message I aim to send. So, I could not find any better name than what he described as the ‘The Rainbow’s Neighbours’,” Zidan asserted.
Despite being her first solo exhibition, “The Rainbow’s Neighbours” witnessed a huge success, with almost 80% of the portraits sold within the exhibition’s two-weeks period.
Receiving the feedback of women personally relating to the displayed art, was the most exciting review Zidan obtained.
“I met a lot of women who were happy to see that they are finally being considered in any art work, and were represented thrilled with their figures no matter how it looked like. That is the most delightful feeling I have received from my work: making someone else happy,” Zidan concluded.