His sculpture surfaced after a psychological breakdown of sorts in the mid-noughties, when he confronted his emotional baggage. "I am focused on expressing my emotions rather than just trying to create shapes. Once I realised this, the anger in me subsided and the hatred disappeared," says Shendi.
After graduating from a Cairo University in 1997, he turned away from making art, mostly for financial reasons. He worked in the fashion and interior design industries and tried his hand at cartoon drawing. When he returned to making art, he was dissatisfied with the end product; they seemed to lack the authenticity he strove to achieve. "In 2006, I decided to quit art and I felt really depressed. I did not buy any art books, I stopped going to museums. I was unhappy and created art for no purpose really," Shendi says.
"I did not know I had depression; I thought it was because I am not famous enough, people didn’t know my name," he says.
The Giant series, which contrasts with the Mother and Child one at the gallery, reflects his experience of the different stages of depression. The collection is defined by male subjects with large, oversized legs that carry small, armless torsos.
This connects with the brutality and the survivalist streak he developed as a child in Egypt, where he felt victimised by not only his family but also the state.
"You reach a point where you become so strong, nothing can break you. It is important for an artist to divert this emotion to present something unique," Shendi says. Emotional strength might be a stereotypical burden placed on men, but it can be traced in the Mother and Child collection too, which is also characterised by hard outer shells.
Shendi has participated in several group shows in the UK, staged numerous solo exhibitions, won a British public art award and has been admitted as a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors. However, he seems to still view himself as an outsider to some degree and rejects the commercial imperative that shapes the contemporary art world.
He refuses to make editions of his sculptures as he doesn’t see any point in remaking something when the original has already satisfied his thoughts and ideas.
"Art is not about money or design, it is a way of living. You cannot make every artist great, but a great artist can come from anywhere," he says.