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Freedom After Prison: A Different Side of Inji Aflatoun at Safar Khan
While the late Inji Efflatoun has become known for her colourful paintings, Safar Khan Gallery's current exhibition shines a light on Efflatoun's ink-on-paper collection, 'Freedom After Prison'. Utilising the chosen materials through different techniques, Efflatoun created a diverse collection of sketches, which depicts life in the Egyptian countryside.
In some of the paintings, Efflatoun used staccato pen strokes to form the scene. One of them is 'Rest Time', in which the artist drew the masses of resting workers, adding a touch of detail here and there to break the detachment of the outlines.
On the other hand, other paintings boast a flowing outline, especially the ones including palm trees and greenery. In one of the best pieces in the exhibition, Efflatoun not only studies the form of palm leaves, but she also adds a creative touch to this simple form, filling the thin outline of the element with waves of ink, using the wide tip of a black marker.
Merging between the previous two techniques, Efflatoun drew a number of scenes that portray the dwellings of the peasants. For example, in one of the paintings, the artist used a continuous outline to draw the houses, while pen strokes were used to form the shape of other details, like palm trees or straw ceilings. Where necessary, Efflatoun used the wide tip of the marker for creating shades.
Though the different shades of ink are dominant in this exhibition, the gallery shows four paintings in colour, three of which are by Efflatoun herself and the fourth is by the exhibition's guest of honour, the late Taheya Halim.
While two of Efflatoun's were placed in near the front desk, making it difficult for the viewer to have a close look at them under the stares of the curators, the third, which portrays the artist while working in a simple set of brush strokes, is placed amidst the other ink paintings. However, being the guest of honour, Halim's Painting, which depicts a Nubian couple seated on a bench, is centred on the wall facing the entrance.
And whether in colours, or merely painting using ink, 'Freedom After Prison' is sheer proof of the artist's brilliant ability to create animated paintings using different mediums.
Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, Zamalek Art Gallery has been hosting a series of exhibitions which represents the works of some of Egypt’s art pioneers. After hosting ‘Art is My Life’ by Gazbia Sirry, this month the gallery embraces the outstanding works of Abdel Rahman El Nashar, by presenting the pieces of El Nashar’s actual museum on the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road, which was established after his death in 1999, by his wife, artist Zeinab El Sageeny, and their daughter, architect Eman El Nashar.
Displayed in the first hall of the gallery is a unique collection of El Nashar‘s famous three-dimensional paintings. The artist replaces the even-surfaced canvas with an assembly of wooden blocks that create multiple surfaces, on which he used various media; from oil paints to tiny leather strips, and even ceramic pieces.
Boasting pieces of red and green ceramic, as well as human forms painted in gold, the masterpiece of this hall, ‘The 8th Saga’, which reveals El Nashar’s keen eye for detail and his avid cubistic approach. Resembling a jigsaw, each block is unique, yet congruent with the others, forming the grand piece which was finished in 1997.
Made in the same year, ‘Organic Integration’ comprises a number of wooden plates, whose curved outline corresponded to the curves of the patterns of blue, red and gold painted on them. Though overwhelming in its many details at first glance, the dynamic outline of the piece smoothly engages the eye to get a clear view of every single detail in the pattern.
El Nashar’s devotion for detailed geometrical patterns dawned in his earlier cubistic pieces, which are displayed in the second hall of the gallery. Painted in 1958 with oil paints on a regular wooden canvas, ’The Oasis’ captures the contrast between the animation of the oasis and the stillness of the desert; carefully painted with a colourful combination of greens, blues and different shades of orange, the oasis is framed by less-detailed waves of the yellow and orange of the desert.
With almost the same palette and materials, ‘Scarecrow’ is an abstract depiction of a field, where human body parts are scattered in the background of yellows and pale greens, while near the centre lies a scarecrow in the foreground painted in brown and dark green. Unlike ‘The Oasis’, which artistically documents a landscape, ‘Scarecrow’ reflects a darker side of El Nashar, despite its relatively bright colours.
In addition to gathering the complete works of an exceptional artist such as Abdel Rahman El Nashar, the gallery has succeeded in paying the ultimate tribute to one of Egypt’s most acclaimed artists. The exhibition allows the viewer to take a closer look at the artist’s creative process by exhibiting his easel and paints next to his last unfinished painting, as well as hosting a screening of a documentary, in which the artist’s wife, Zeinab El Sageeny, speaks about El Nashar’s actual museum.