Self Portrait with Roots, Los Angeles 2008


Hand colored gelatin silver print

115 x 75 cm

The truncated image of the sleeping artist curled up against a tree trunk appears in the upper part of this photograph entitled Self-Portrait With Roots, Los Angeles 2008. His bare body is hard to spot in the tangle of huge, gnarled, sinuous roots covering the whole composition. The scene is bathed in colours obtained by using a hand-tinting technique, heightening its dreamlike dimension.

“Every time I walked by this tree, I thought of Egypt...” says Egyptian photographer Youssef Nabil about the work's central motif. Since leaving his homeland in 2003 to live freely from his art, he has worked on a series of self-portraits closely connected to his experience of exile. He depicts himself as a walker or a solitary sleeper in ever-changing contexts, such as here in Los Angeles.

Acquired by the Pinault Collection, Self-Portrait With Roots, Los Angeles 2008 is being exhibited for the first time at Nabil's 2020 solo show “Once Upon A Dream” at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice.