Playing cards when we were young was a hobby for most of us, but Ahmed Refay used the cards in a different kind of way by building unique sculptures out of them. He built these structures without using any adhesives to hold them together, a factor that made him unique, but also made it difficult to display his artwork in exhibitions, later encouraging him to resort to presenting his work on social media.
Nineteen-year-old Refay is a Saudi-born Egyptian, and an undergraduate at the Faculty of Law, Tanta University. He did not realize his real enthusiasm towards this art until his father saw Refay making pyramid shapes with the cards, and encouraged him to create more difficult forms and shapes. Since then, Refay started to search the Internet to learn more and develop his talent.
Refay participated in the “Helwa Ya Baladi” art exhibition for the first time in Kafr el Sheikh last February, as a sketch artist, but he lost his sketches right before the exhibition and decided to take his cards and make a small structured shape, which took him around an hour and half. Worried about the consequences, he was delighted when Kafr El Sheikh Governor praised his work, as well as receiving a positive reaction from visitors.
Although Refay gained positive feedback from the media and several other organizations, he unfortunately started facing the problem of exhibitions not accepting in this kind of art as it is risky. “I never took photos of my previous work, however after being rejected several times, I started to think about creating a Facebook page to showcase my work and expose it to as many people as I could. I felt my success in the number of reviews and comments I received,” mentioned Refay. “Many people claimed that I must have used glue to form these structures, which were comments I enjoyed,” said Refay. “I then decided to make a video of myself during the process to prove to them that I was not using any adhesives,” clarified Refay.
“It usually takes me about 20 hours to complete a structure, depending on the height and diameter,” said Refay. “Most of the time, I create imaginative shapes, however, I did the coliseum of Italy, which was published in Al Ahram, as well as Rhode Island,” added Refay. “For the Roman Stadium — which was my idea and design — I used 8000 cards, the structure having a height of 103 cm and width of 201 cm x 105 cm.
“I am following in the footsteps of Prine Berg: the American engineer first in this technique worldwide. I hope that I would be like him one day,” aspired Refay. “I am working hard, already reaching the maximum height of my room on a structure, but I am capable of reaching up to five meters, and I am working on breaking the seven meter Guinness World Record one day,” added Refay.
Refay has great hopes for the future. He is eager to develop himself in this art, hoping that the skepticism towards it would change in Egypt soon. He plans on continuing his education, but if he succeeds in making a career out of this art, he would love to follow his passion.