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June 13, 2021

Egyptian artist creates portraits out of burnt tobacco

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Image: Abdelrahman al-Habrouk makes a portrait of the American actor Johnny Depp with tobacco in Alexandria, Egypt August 10, 2017. Picture taken August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (Reuters) – In a small studio littered with empty cigarette packets in Egypt’s second city, Alexandria, Abdelrahman al-Habrouk sits hunched over a sheet of paper making portraits with tobacco.

The cigarettes fuel his art; he breaks them in half, painstakingly traces out monochrome images of celebrities or animals with the fine flakes of tobacco, then sprinkles his creations with gunpowder and sets them on fire.

The resulting scorch-marks on the white paper form the portrait.

Habrouk, now 23, started using unusual materials to make images a couple of years ago, experimenting with coffee, salt and sand before settling on the tobacco technique because it is more durable.

“The idea is that I’m trying to make the art live longer,” he told Reuters.

“I wanted to make something good out of something that is considered harmful,” he added.

(Reporting by Sayed Sheasha; Writing by Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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