Hebe Hussein: A Renaissance Woman

my article in Obelisque MagazineHebe Hussein is one WOW of a woman. A scientist, a doctor, an artist; inspired and inspiring.

inside Hebe Hussein's studioAs a child, Heba was always drawing. Her father wanted her to be an artist. But, she was passionate about science and good at it.  After first studying science in high school, she went on to medical school  becoming the first female plastic surgeon in the Middle East.

Jump ahead a few years when a  meeting with famed Egyptian, contemporary painter Hassan Soliman (1928-2008) lead to a change in direction. Heba put medicine on hold and began learning from and working with him. He was an important mentor and supportive friend. “Painting is definitely a passion, but ultimately, I could not leave medicine behind. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that art is science. I had to do both”. And why not? She now divides her time almost equally between these two passions.

le Pain Nu: Artists: Heba Hussein, Yasser Nabaiel, Hala Ashour and Wafaa NashashibiHeba believes in the power of  beauty. She never leaves the house without lipstick. And yes, she does breast implants and face lifts. But a surprisingly large part of her practice is helping those who need reconstructive surgery after accidents or congenital challenges. She went back to school to study dentistry. Heba combines both her medical disciplines in her volunteer work for Operation Smile, a charity which provides surgery to people born with palates & lip clefts.Portrait by Hebe Hussein

It is easy to understand how her talent as an artist would help her as a surgeon. She explains how the reverse is also true. “Painting is turning 2 dimensions into 3 dimensions. Putting time, emotion and movement onto canvas. The principles of science allow this to happen”. A woman who never stops learning, Heba took a print making course to better understand the artist M C Escher.  She has long been fascinated by his combining of perspective and engineering.

In person Heba is confident, cheeky and charming. The vulnerability apparent in her art shows there is more to this complicated woman, a  depth and a strength below the surface glamour and irreverence. Through her paintings she  reveals personal triumphs and hurts. She has two grown sons of whom she is incredibly proud. She has two successful careers. But there has been a price for taking an unconventional path. As she wrote in the forward to her recent exhibition “Adhering to ones ideals results in making the hard choices to live a life that others do not imagine possible…one ends up alone, an outsider, as no one wants to share this unpredictable often dangerous road”.

this article was originally published in OBELISQUE MAGAZINE, 2020

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