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The Gallery: 'Collage: 100 Years On'
The Gallery in Zamalek is a new art gallery that recently opened up in the same apartment as antique store Le Souk just up the stairs from café L'Aroma. The current exhibition at the Gallery is titled ‘Collage: 100 years on’. The exhibition is inspired by the fact that in 2012 it will be exactly one hundred years since Braque and Picasso introduced collage as an art form into the realms of fine art.
The exhibition showcases the work of several different artists with complete contradistinctive styles, and so the collection is very diverse. The exhibition starts with the work of Hisham El Zeiny. Most of his pieces have soft terracotta colours and depict everyday items such as Turkish coffee kettles, stars (looking suspiciously similar to the Stella beer logo), carts and amphora’s alternating with calligraphy.
The work of artist Huda Lufti is displayed throughout the entire venue and is very interesting. Her work seems to be inspired by the likes of Andy Warhol and Richard Hamilton. Her most interesting piece is that of a mannequin head covered in news paper style headlines saying: ‘No one is a winner in battles between men and women’. We couldn’t agree more of course. For the male football fans out there who are convinced that art is boring, you might reconsider after seeing Lufti’s take on a normal football. She collected pictures from some of the world’s most famous football players and attached them to two footballs. Of course we don’t advise anyone to actually play with them.
Another very interesting artist is Hany Rashed. In his series of collages he has put the focus on well known prototypical situations of contemporary society which he has twisted around by adding his own elements. Rashed used pictures from newspapers and magazines covering a wide range of topics, such as political and religious events, for his work. All the faces in Rasheds work are whitened which gives an interesting aspect to the work. Despite the faces being whitened it’s still fairly easy to recognize Queen Elizabeth, Prince Felipe and Princess Letitzia of Spain and the Kennedy family. Apart from the royals there is also an interesting piece about Iran and some pieces depicting everyday life such as a women shopping in the supermarket and a couple sitting on a square. The city of Venice and the French language are also recurring themes.
Hassan Ali’s works differ a lot from each other in the sense that they are either very bright and colourful or just plain black and white. His work usually depicts pictures of people and drawings. Mutaz Mohamed El Eman follows a similar pattern, although his signature style is assimilating pictures of people into animal shapes.
The exhibition is absolutely worth a visit because the art is refreshing and some of the works have a great element of fun.
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.