As I've mentioned before, my aim with documenting and sharing my visits to art-related events is to essentially highlight the exceptional, underrated and under-represented community of artists we have here in Cairo. I'm not an art critic but rather an inquisitive observer. And I definitely don't intend on discrediting or criticising galleries and artists, instead, I want to utilise this opportunity to become more well informed, delve further into the Egyptian art scene and discover more talents.
You may find my interpretations to be more of a synopsis than your typical critiquing review because my main focus here is the work itself and I'd rather start a conversation about it rather than proclaim success or failure. Which is why I prefer delivering a general outlining of the work and the artists, and leave the rest to the readers' imagination.
Zamalek Art Gallery is arguably one of Cairo's most well known and prestigious galleries. For more than 15 years, the gallery has been constantly catering to the art community in Egypt and I believe opened a space, gained interest and paved the way for success for the rest of the galleries around the block.
Placed on one of the busiest streets in Cairo, the contrast within the quiet gallery to the noisy traffic outside enriches the experience of the artists' work and their representation of the Egyptian way of life.
This is my first review on Zamalek Art Gallery's exhibitions and I wanted to start it off with their Masterpieces collection. Every year, Zamalek Art Gallery holds an exhibition displaying their ever-growing MASTERPIECES collections. With such an impressive selection of (mostly established, some emerging) artists they add every year, the gallery's MASTERPIECES collections never cease to fail me. Showcasing some of the finest talent in the modern art scene in Egypt, the gallery provides an enriching experience, especially for those who are getting introduced to the art community here in Cairo.
For people who are starting to learn about the Egyptian art scene and it's collection of artists, this review is especially great for you to expand your knowledge and do your research on some of Egypt's greatest treasures.
Zamalek Art Gallery
16.7.17 - 20.9.17
11 Brazil St.
A little over 60 art works were exhibited and the artists featured in the exhibition include:
Farghali Abdel Hafiz, AbdelRahman El Nashar, Yasmine El Hazek, Amina ElDemirdash, Souad Mardam Bey, AbdelAziz Saab, Sameh Ismail, Mostafa Abdel Moity, Ayman ElSaadawy, Ahmed AbdelTawab, Kamal El Fiky, Nathan Doss, Gamal El Sagini, Zeinab Al Saginy, Adel Mostafa, Rabab Nemr, Adel Tharwat, Khaled El Abbassiry, Carelle Homsi, Emad Ibrahim, Georgy Fikry, Gazbia Sirry, Hussein Bicar, Mohamed El Fayoumi, Saleh Abdel-Sabour, Wael AbdelSabbour and more.
Note: I will only be sharing a number of works for the purpose of not giving away too much therefore I unfortunately will not be able to feature all the artists involved in the exhibition. This does not mean that some works deserved to be mentioned more than others; on the contrary, I really appreciate all the work and artists involved.
Farghali Abdel Hafiz is one of Egypt's most established artists. One who has expanded and explored many different mediums and approaches to painting than most artists we see today.
Nationalism is deeply rooted within in Abdel Hafiz's work. They are a form his own celebration and pride of Egypt as the Motherland of the world.
He's known for his use of earthy materials such as sand, clay and mud combined with his dynamic colours, symbols and figurines placed in the context of the past and the present.
Based on his career, one can perfectly describe Abdel Hafiz as a multifaceted artist with a great patriotic spirit, even in Egypt's most turbulent times, he constantly creates and encourages an uplifting and unified Egyptian identity.
Abdel Hafiz's style has definitely changed over time in terms of aesthetic when you compare his work in the 60's to his current work. However he still maintains his powerful choice of colour combinations and textured canvases.
Rabab Nemr is genuinely one of my favourite artists of all time. Nemr draws most of her inspirations from her beautiful city of Alexandria and moulds her cubist impressions with her ever-changing colour palettes.One of my favourite things about her is that she does not confine herself between her signature figures and that she's a true artist who constantly seeks new horizons to pursue within her work.
She paints from memory and constantly reinforces a sense optimism with her impeccable attention to detail. With such a special and distinguishable style, the embodiment of her work nurtures the idea of vitality and hope.
Khaled Sorour is an artist whose work I truly admire. As cheesy and cliche as it may sound, just seeing his work makes me smile. His collection of paintings reveal the daily nuances we experience in Cairo represented through his pop-art-like-style with bold outlines creating a powerful depth within his work.
Hussein Bicar was one of Egypt's most noteworthy and accomplished artists of the 20th century and the first Egyptian to illustrate Arabic children's books. He was also a teacher, storywriter, poet, reporter and musician. He's known for utilising the Nubian and Ancient Egyptian cultures within his artworks.The austerity within Bicar's work is highlighted with his strict lines. As a multitalented individual, Bicar made a conscious decision to steer away from Western art and create his own approach to art, and he believed that channeling his Egyptian roots would aid him in doing so. And I'd definitely say it did
Emad Ibrahim's emotionally charged paintings become heightened especially in this one with his monochromatic colour palette.
Ibrahim signature mix of charcoal and acrylics portrays a lot of the life in the countryside with his paintings, revealing its simplicity and peacefulness; which it creates a great contrast with the other paintings that depict the bustling Cairene streets.
I've always admired Amina ElDemirdash's work. I like to believe that she's on her way to becoming our generation's Margo Veillon. Her spontaneous brush strokes and appreciation for the beauty of imperfection in a society that highlights the importance of vanity is quite special and definitely adds a certain depth within her work. She's constantly inspired by the characters of people as opposed to their physical appearances, architecture and places. This piece is part of her first acrylic and pastel nude collection.
I loved how there was a balance between the sculptures and the paintings, something I rarely encounter in collective exhibitions.
Let's start with my favourite sculpture. Not to be confused by the former Egyptian president; This Gamal Abdel-Nasser has actually made a name for himself with his unconventional and flawless sculptures. This was honestly the first piece that caught my eye in the whole exhibition.
It's placement and the lighting are all details that magnified this sculpture's beauty and made it all the more compelling. This goes to show you Zamalek Art Gallery's importance of quality and presentation when showcasing art work.
Gamal El Sagini is a legendary and widely renowned Egyptian artist. Like many of the artists, Egypt was the main catalyst for El Sagini's work.
Based on the events taking place he would express his hope, discontent and unequivocal love with his country.
El Sagini always wanted to feed the viewer's mind and soul, to the extent that when he found that his work was piling up in his studio rather than in the streets of Cairo, he threw his work into the Nile as his own act of dissent. He proved his the power of his passion and his powerful desire for people to see his work so that it can fulfil it's duty.
I'd say Gamal El Sagini is definitely an artist whose work will live beyond its times because of his undying commitment and love for his craft.
Ahmed AbdelTawab is one of the masters of Egyptian sculptors. With a massive collection of beautiful work, AbdelTawab is not limited to a certain medium, he weaves in and out between bronze, granite and wood.
His abstract forms are emblematic of his preference for geometric shapes and bold lines. Very simple yet potent in it's effect.
Nathan Doss has created his own style that cannot be attributed to any art movement or artist style. Doss's ambitious attitude towards his work paved way for his originality.
This is definitely one of, if not, my favourite pieces in the exhibition. Doss has proved himself to be a conscientious artist having demonstrated his own form of liberation when it comes to creating sculptures leaving us with such an unconventional yet beautifully familiar aesthetic like the above photo.
Don't miss all the work displayed in the exhibition. You also must check out Mohamed El Fayoumi and Khaled El-Abbassiry's sculptures, George Fikry's paintings and Yasmine El Hazek's work.
Comment your thoughts! Have you been to the exhibition? What did you think?