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Gallery Misr: 'Tank Girl' by Nadine Hammam
Every now and then you find an art exhibition in Cairo that is completely different from all the others, to the point where you can’t stop Tweeting about it or taking pictures to put up on Facebook. This is exactly what happened when we stepped into Gallery Misr where ‘Tank Girl’ by Nadine Hammam was on display.
The first thing that caught our eye was the blue banner covered in pink letters, with the words: ‘GO LOVE YOURSELF’. The pieces, by Cairo born and raised Hamman, are mixed-media and focus mostly on gender dynamics and investigate the relationship between the public versus the private, the external versus the internal, which are key to Middle Eastern society.
Tank Girl is about the most primitive search for attention, affection and passion. It highlights the elusive yet complex relation of love and sex; something that, in contemporary social context, ties into the traditional overbearing Egyptian society. Hammam’s paintings suppose a stronger, more independent and more elusive female persona.
From an aesthetic point of view, Hammam’s pieces are multilayered and her use of colours pops. One example shows a female figure with a glittery bunny in between her legs, with text reading ‘Just Love Me’. The same colours are used in most of the series; mainly primary colours red and blue. Her piece ‘The Girl with a Hole in Her Heart’ features a woman sitting down with condom wrappers in the place of her heart. One of the best pieces, carrying the title of the exhibition, is ‘Tank Girl’. A woman sits with her legs straddling an army tank with the phallic shaped turret of the tank in an erect position and seems to be ejaculating rats.
Another very nice piece shows a woman sitting in a seductive pose with ‘You said you wanted me, so here I am’ written on her body. Condom wrappers make another appearance in a piece with two women back to back with the text ‘I need a revolver more than I need you’. The word revolver is made out of the wrappers while some words have a small white line with the text ‘Love me please’. We were also quite impressed with the ‘For How Long Will You Love Me’, which shows the word ‘me’ between the legs of the female figure.
If you want to purchase a piece by Nadine Hamman, you will need a fair amount of money. Pieces are between $8,000 and $20,000. They might be relatively pricey but then again, it’s worth it. The exhibition is an absolute must see and kudos to Nadine Hamman for tackling this subject in such a brilliant way.
Hanan Ghanem’s ‘Colourful Passion’ is the latest exhibition in Cairo to demonstrate that Egypt is not only brimming with talented artist, but that said artists form an eclectic and evolving scene.
Born in Alexandria in 1972, Ghanem graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts Alexandria. Having held several solo and group exhibitions in Cairo and her hometown, her latest collection, 'Colourful Passion', displayed in Zamalek's Art Corner Gallery, explores a reflection of her identity with passionate colours and a world within a canvas.
While her inspiration for this particular exhibition was the January 25th revolution, 'Colourful Passion' conceives a notion of a force and vigour that woman – in the collective sense – reaps through adversity
Infusing an idea of female sentiment in all of her pieces, Ghanem’s paintings are all painted on large canvases, almost life-size.
Showing both struggle and beauty, her large canvases show faces of diverse women from different cultural backgrounds, reflecting expressive features and symbolic fine points using a combination of radiant and gloomy colours.
With exceptionally diverse imagery, Ghanem’s unique talent lies in her ability to create life-like narratives with a twist of illusion.
One of the larger canvases stood out, taking on a pitch-black background and sinister looking figures in natural colours. A large face with attractive Arabian features, piercing eyes detailed to the point where it feels like they’re staring back at the audience with an expression of grief.
Highlighting the borders of the piece was blue-azure smoke, portraying a spiritual essence. The whole piece was rather unnerving but flares with talent.
In another painting, her use of colour blasts more intense and passionate vibes featuring another engaging feminine character with ice-blue eyes. The face is eclipsed with dark shadows and vibrant shades of red and orange, giving a dramatic effect. While the piece itself is complex with details and outspoken with colours, it dominates the rest of her work and may slightly overshadow it.
Ghanem’s pieces combine intensity, beauty and a dramatic use of colours which all come together to make very individually-engaging artworks.