Le Regard (The Look)
Le Regard, 1995
(The Look)
Gouache on paper
Lent by the artist
(Photo: Harry Foster  © Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation)

" [...] whenever I had time, I found myself visualizing all the scenes of my native country that I had been able to observe during my childhood. And as if they were stories, I set about illustrating my memories."

Excerpt from a text by the artist

Of Egyptian origin, Nicolas Zeitouni was born in 1935 in Alexandria. As a child, the ways and customs of his culture seduced him. He was fascinated by the fishermen dressed in their traditional costumes, by women adorned with bracelets that tinkled, and by popular festivals. Highly attracted by the arts, he enrolled in decorative arts at the School of Fine Arts, received his diploma in 1962, and began to teach visual arts. In 1965, he decided to immigrate to Canada for a better life. He chose Montreal because it is a city where one can speak and live in French, and for its richness and its cultural diversity.

Nicolas Zeitouni with his spouse Marguerite Denhez
Nicolas Zeitouni with his spouse Marguerite Denhez,
Montreal, Quebec, 1999
Camille Zakharia.
Iris digital prints.
Collection of the Canadian Museum of Civilization

The Commission des écoles catholiques de Montréal then hired him, with the proviso that he study for his teacher's certificate. He received the latter from the Université du Québec à Montréal in 1972. During the 18 years he occupied this position, he explored several mediums: ceramics, enamelling, batik and silkscreen printing. From 1977 to 1981, he studied for a Master's degree at Concordia University in the teaching of art, but reoriented himself towards the creation of jewellery in 1983. He then owned and operated his own jewellery store for 10 years.

L'apprentissage  (The Apprenticeship)
L'apprentissage, 1995
(The Apprenticeship)
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Lent by the artist
(Photo: Harry Foster  © Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation)

In 1995, the "storyteller" in him led him to produce a series of miniatures (gouache, ink and acrylic) originating in his childhood memories: My paintings represent stories and characters placed outside of time, in an imaginary and fantastic world. To create these paintings, he borrows from symbolic images (such as the hand of Fatma or the eye) in the folk art of Upper Egypt. He does this, however, without sacrificing the theme of his work, and by breaking away from the symmetry traditionally used in decoration. Imbued with sensuality and tenderness, full of life and warm colours, his works also convey the vision of the East and of Egypt that separation has allowed him to gain.

Nicolas Zeitouni's work has appeared in many exhibitions in Quebec.