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Ayyam Gallery: Thaier Helal
Opened in late 2010, Ayyam Gallery is the newest addition to the chain of Ayyam art spaces in Beirut, Dubai and Damascus. Their reputation is of high manner, reflecting a fine sense of sophistication and heavy impression of commercialism felt the minute you grace Ayyam’s entryway.
Located on Abul Feda Street in Zamalek, Ayyam Gallery is accessible via ringing the buzzer for the monitored gate. The sterile patio space leads you up to the gallery’s door and the friendly attendant will be greeting you shortly.
According to the gallery’s press release, UAE-based Syrian painter Thaier Helal is known for his large mixed media canvases that ’transform the tangible (and intangible) into abstractions that explore colour and texture.’
On his latest exhibition 'Liberated Spatiality', Helal aims at conjuring up a new method of seeing that ’relies on the sensations of rhythm and movement to communicate the sentiments and physicality of society and culture.’ The release goes onto say that these abstract images delve even deeper into the energy and movement of people, places, space and time; bringing to question collective action through gatherings that transcend typical spatial boundaries.
Beautifully arranged and pushing poetic, the description of Helal’s concept leaves this reviewer wondering what the immense amount of repetitious rhetoric even means. While we thoroughly understand the idea of using the medium for expression and communication, the press release only furthered the abstraction that it is waxing around, leaving a taste of pomposity in our mouths.
After checking the pieces out for ourselves, we were still left with little to chew on. In the furthest room, a large canvas was satiated in bronze and blue tones then covered with lines of numbers. Other pieces were similarly arranged by rich amounts of colour and texture, pretty on the eye but left little food for thought. The dense hues and spastic paint blotch sequences summoned a bit of a chaotic score, a beautiful mess if you’d like to call it that.
Interestingly enough and more provoking than the exhibition itself was the street art located on the wall next to the gallery's entrance. The mural shows Amr Moussa, Farouk Hosni, Mohamed Tantawi and Mubarak himself, walking hand in hand with hearts surrounding them. The image is hilarious and speaks volumes, lambasting the long-time relationships that have kept the regime alive. We left feeling confused, though; isn’t Ayyam Gallery the kind of place that Farouk Hosni would have loved?
While Helal’s exhibition was less than exciting, Ayyam Gallery is a great art space to check out for pricey and aesthetically pleasing works of art.
Proving that art immortalises its creator, Hassan Soliman’s ‘Last Works’ exhibition at Picasso Art Gallery shows the late artists work can still conquers gallery halls to fascinate art enthusiasts in Cairo.
As the exhibition’s name suggests, this show documents the final episode of Soliman’s successful career, which mirrors the disposition of an illness-laden artist. The artist’s last paintings split into two collections; the first is a number of still-life paintings in colours, while the second depicts sceneries of seamen in Egypt painted entirely in black and white.
While the high-contrast bright palettes of his earlier works showed boldness, this collection, which boasts a variety of pastel colours intermingled with grey and blue, reflects a meditative mood. In a painting, the loneliness of the white plate placed before a widow added a dramatic feel to the already sombre mood of the whole work. In another, the cheerful view of fresh pink roses was mellowed by a number of dried petals placed on white cloth next to the flower vase –a thing we perceived as a symbol of death.
With no death allusions nor lonely elements, the masterpiece of this collection that comprises a number of scattered pears, a bowl and cup placed on a table has a magnificent palette of grey, blue and green. Also, what makes this painting stand out is the angle with which the Soliman viewed his elements; while the rest of the paintings shows a front view, this particular painting shows a slightly elevated angle creating a more brooding feel to it.
Despite being known for his monochromatic paintings, the exhibition’s paintings of the same style are not as bright as his earlier works. Dominated by the dark shades of greys and sepia, the paintings in general almost have no room for brighter shades or whites, even when the elements demanded otherwise. For example, the white sail of a boat that takes over a painting has a dim tint to it, giving the whole scenery a dreamy impression.
Although Soliman has bidden us goodbye, this emotional collection enriches his legacy and pays a fitting tribute to a characterful artist.