Portraits of local and international celebrities, politicians and humanitarians hang on Mohamed Kotb’s wall, an artist who uses nails and colourful drawing pins to create.
Kotb has been painting for most of his artistic career using traditional tools, but it has been almost two years since he replaced his paint brush with a hammer and nails.
He was introduced to the concept after seeing a portrait of Egypt’s late King Farouk made entirely of nails hanging in his uncle’s house.
Kotb then spent time learning the skills himself.
I started drawing portraits for famous personalities such as Om Kalthoum, Ghandi, Guevara, Abou-Treika, Mohamed Mounir. It's something that exists, but is new and difficult, and isn't common.
“The idea of nails (art) is practiced in Europe but it isn’t that popular. In the beginning I used to draw portraits using colours and paint brushes but I wanted to do something new, a new way of drawing and a new form of portraits, not just simply drawing using hammer nails. I started drawing portraits for famous personalities such as Om Kalthoum, Ghandi, Guevara, Abou-Treika, Mohamed Mounir. It’s something that exists, but is new and difficult, and isn’t common,” he said.
Most of the nails he uses are a special kind imported from Germany that are rustproof and are not always available in Egypt.
He also uses an imported silk that isn’t regularly available in supermarkets, and colourful plastic drawing pins.
Depending on the material, Kotb either draws it with a pencil first, or uses a special computer program.
“My method for the nail portraits… there are portraits like Abou Treika, or others that are made with drawing pins. They require computers more because it is based more on engineering than improvisational art that you do with your hands. There are other types (of art) that involve nails and thread that are similar to stenciling, where I first draw it with graffiti, and then it is placed on the picture and draw with nails,” he said.
The most nails he has used for a drawing was of Egyptian football player Mohamed Abou-Treika. He used 7000 nails in that particular portrait, but he has much larger ambitions.
“In the Guinness records there is an Albanian artist who used 500,000 nails. I want to do something with 700,000 or even a million nails, but my problem is that I need help. I need a large wall so I can create a panorama image of the Egyptian military during the October 6th war and I can get in the Guinness records,” he said.
For now Kotb’s art works are not available for public sale, and the artist says he has no plans to open up a shop in the near future.
The art work in the Guinness Book of Records that he is aiming to surpass is a portrait of Leonardo da Vinci by Albanian artist Saimir Strati.