Sign in using your account with
Zamalek Art Gallery & Kempinski Nile Hotel: Sameh Ismail
After several successful collaborative exhibitions, Zamalek Art Gallery and Kempinski Nile Hotel’s Chocolate Lounge have joined forces to bring an exhibition taking place simultaneously at both venues. This time they present the work of Egyptian artist Sameh Ismail.
After studying fine arts at Helwan University, Ismail went on to work as a freelance graphic designer for advertising agencies and Egyptian TV where his work was sampled in various films and TV shows. His newest exhibition consists mainly of artwork inspired by the January 25th revolution. Older paintings are also on display, proving just how much Ismail's style has evolved since January 25th.
His previous work consisted mainly of ink on paper and monochromatic paintings in black and white. The designs were also more traditional with mashrabeya designs.The three pieces displayed at the Chocolate Lounge are inspired by Muezz Street in Islamic Cairo.
In his new collection, Ismail has worked with acrylic paint and spray paint. It’s worth noting the significant difference between the new collection and his old work in the use of colours. In his new work, Ismail has used many pastels, giving the paintings a cheerful vibe. The artist himself says the revolution brought him to this change. To him the colours reflect hope; an emotion that he felt on the streets of Egypt after the revolution. Another new element of Ismail’s work is his use of graffiti, which is another indication of the revolution’s influence on his work. While most graffiti artists work on the street and use walls and bridges as a canvas, Ismail combines street art with refined art in his work.
The words in the artist’s art pieces don’t necessarily mean anything; in fact, some words are merely drawn to display the beauty of Arabic calligraphy. Even viewers who can’t read Arabic will appreciate the beauty of the paintings.
One of the exhibitions’ highlights is a painting of a list of orders at an ahwa. On the list we see shisha orders like apple, lemon and grape flavours as well as tea orders. When all of this adds up, the total amount reads ‘Al Dostor Awalan’, or, ‘constitution first’. Another painting shows a sun accompanied by the words ‘search for bread and freedom under the sun’.
The artist’s main focuses seems to be to modernise Arabic calligraphy, and he’s done a good job in bringing politics and art together. His work could best be described as modern abstract. Though sometimes there are still some old influences, most of Ismail’s work is of Arabic art with a modern twist. If you’re ever in the Zamalek or Garden City neighbourhood, pass by the Zamalek Art Gallery or the Kempinski’s Chocolate Lounge to check out Ismail’s collection.
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.