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Residence of the European Union: 'On the Move'
Once you are in, follow the natural disposition of the rooms and admire the sumptuous style of this early 20th century residence. After a few steps, you may find yourself in a significant contrast between the smooth lines of the furniture and the strength of the first paintings.
The entrance hall hosts four of Salah El Mur's works. One in particular caught our attention: two women are painted in different green, blue, and red tones on a green background; one of them is pregnant. Green should be the colour of hope but here it gives a sense of sickness. The women are almost blue in the face and their wide skirts remind us of a cage, as if they were somehow trapped.
This sense of anxiety becomes stronger once you are in front of Amre Heiba's controversial paintings in the room on your left. The title he chose for this selection of works, Still Life, is somewhat provocative. The artist represents living beings, humans and animals as if they were still in time and space as objects. His way of painting is very expressive, sometimes macabre, using such dark colours and pronounced outlines, with red shaded details that recall blood. Six other paintings of the same artist are exhibited in living room two.
The exhibition continues in the waiting room with four of Hany Rashed's paintings. You can't help noticing two of them for their big format, pop art inspiration and advertising style. On one of them, the square canvas is only painted with the three primary colours plus black and white. The square contains a circle in which two women from the 50's are gossiping. The other two paintings are more inspired by urban art and use collage techniques.
Along the corridor, Ibrahim s paintings are exhibited. Apart from one big sized work, the rest of his collection is made up of a series of small works on paper. El Haddad' asserts: "We see nothing truly until we understand it. And for me the real key for seeing, understanding, and making an art work is honesty". The walking men he paints are Probably going towards that quest for honesty the artist talks about.
The dining room is the last room and also the biggest one. It hosts eleven paintings: three from Xavier Puigmarti, three from Salah El Mur, and five from Georges Bahgory. We appreciated the title of Puigmarti's selection, which inspired by what happened in Egypt in the days after January 25th: Wireless.
The Salah El Mur paintings here are different from those of the entrance hall, showing something more tribal in their represented subjects and choice of colours.
Before having a deserved rest in the hidden garden, don't miss Bahgory's section which is on your right. You'll find a big painting probably representing a concert. We can recognize men playing instruments from an orchestra in the background, a couple dancing in the front, and an impressive Castafiore filling the space with her powerful facial expression.
All the 46 exhibited paintings are for sale.
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.