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Downtown, Cairo, Egypt.
Espace Karim Francis Gallery: A Downtown Art Space Since 1995
Cairo’s art community and contemporary scene is predominantly located amongst the bustling streets of Downtown Cairo; and there’s no better place for it to thrive. With at least a handful of galleries all within a few blocks of each other, we seem to have let this one gallery slip under the radar.
Located in the tree-lined alleyway of Al Sherifayn Street and next door to Borsa Café is Karim Francis Gallery. Head to the second floor of building Nr.1 and you can’t miss it.
Karim Francis first opened in 1995 with the aim of securing a spot in the Egyptian contemporary art movement. One of the first galleries of its kind to open, Karim Francis quickly became a popular spot for up-and-coming artists to exhibit their work in. The gallery also wholeheartedly supports and promotes Egypt’s more prominent artists, highlighting their renowned work and representing their trade on a national, regional and international level.
Although the gallery aims to exhibit a variety of mediums, they’re typically inclined to feature painting and sculpture exhibitions. The minimal design of the space would be difficult for installations and other more space-inducing mediums.
Karim Francis Gallery’s space is simple. Composed of four small rooms, the original wood flooring is still in place; providing a somewhat rustic feel in comparison to the bleach white walls and thin track lighting lining each area. A decent amount of the lighting seemed to be out at the time of this reviewer’s visit, which was a bit distracting when we tried to view the art.
On the West side of the flat, a long balcony lines the rooms; and with the French doors open, the breeze provides a fresh, relaxing tone for an afternoon of perusing. The gallery’s attendant will nicely offer to answer any questions and curiosities; but he’s also more than low-key, enhancing a guest’s viewing pleasure without squelching your space or making you feel like you’re being followed.
The gallery currently hosts the latest paintings by local artist Mohammed Taman until December 2nd, 2010. Titled Baroque, the exhibition implores viewers to contemplate the relationship between the human body and the external elements that it intersects with. The paintings are large, filling space on each room’s adjoining walls.
Don’t hesitate to ask for a view of the art being stored in the gallery’s office. Various paintings and sculptures are stacked at the bottom of the walls, including a few lovely paintings by artist Hisham El Zeiny.
While the gallery is located in a cosy little nook, tucked away from the chaos of Downtown, it’s also a great place to visit when you’re looking for a quiet and inspiring afternoon.
Eyes are the windows to the soul; an old saying that was perfectly demonstrated in Zamalek Art Gallery’s current exhibition, ‘The Magic Thread’.
‘The Magic Thread’ features a collection of unique, childlike and somewhat eerie figurative paintings by Syrian artist, Souad Mardam Bey, who, through her artistic talent and devotion, conveys intense feelings through the eyes of each painting.
Each painting portrays a different character; only it seems that the same captivating element in each one of them is the eyes, which seem to be filled with some sort of sadness or longing that can be further understood differently.
One particular painting shows a female figure –a child most likely— with her head titled to the side, smelling a white-petal flower with large longing eyes which seem to be gazing right out of the canvas. Everything about this painting is simple and bland; except the eyes, which are much more detailed and slightly bigger than one would expect which draws the viewer in even further.
The background of Bey’s paintings are simple and exist purely of one flat colour; which is why more attention is drawn to the innocent childish figures painted on top portraying a 2D style, similar to the one you find in children’s books.
Another painting that stood out depicts a young girl figure or doll, dressed up in a floral pink dress and make-up, looking into a mirror with large sad eyes, a common element in many of Bey’s artwork.
‘The Magic Thread’ is a title that not only draws on the childlike theme in this exhibition, but also evokes the idea of children’s toys and dolls coming to life, especially through their expressive eyes—which seemed to be the central point of this exhibition.
With its ray of unique large portraits and simple childlike style, Bey’s exhibition is without a doubt captivating one and it succeeded to attract a large crowd among art connoisseurs in Cairo.