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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.
The great thing about sculpture is that unlike a painting, it offers the possibility to walk around it and observe it from all angles giving the viewer the power to be so close that they are almost part of it. Showing at Zamalek’s Al Masar Gallery, ‘A Dialogue of Life’ features stunning sculptures by the artist, Hani Feisal, and the best part is its on display for an entire month.
Feisal uses a variety of materials to create his sculptures: bronze, granite and wood, and the creations themselves are of animals such as a rooster, a crow, an ox and several human figures, both male and female. One of our favourites from the collection was the smooth, shiny rooster sculpture which was made from bronze; it stood tall and proud and the bronze material captured the light as though it were the early morning sun.
Another sculpture, a little further into the gallery, is of a crow, though this one is made from granite; a material which alone gives an outdoor affect. The size which is around triple the size of an actual crow portrays a sacredness of the bird. It is rather bizarre to see these creatures in this form as it appears like they were captured, frozen and robbed of life, though it could also be said that their life has been frozen and then preserved therefore giving it an immortality.
Feisal’s exhibition also includes some wooden sculptures of women though one particular sculpture, titled Village Woman, appears obese and grotesque with very little detail to add any personality to her. However the wood material which was used to create it gives it a soft and delicate affect which contrasts against the unattractive shape. A more clear portrayal of the effect of the materials is the double statue of two women, identical in every way except for the material; one from wood and one from granite, with the latter giving a feeling of distance, whereas the wooden one is more personal and sensual.
The title of the exhibition raises interesting aspect to the concept of life, in itself offering possible connotations as to the content and idea behind the work inside. If we ask our self What is life? some would say breathing, sleeping, eating and others may look deeper and state it is a test from God or another higher power. Hani Feisal shows us through his sensual display of finely set sculptures that life is the way the rooster always stands tall and proud and never fails to crow at the break of day; it is the bird perched on a branch, contemplating the sky and it is the existence of the human-being and all the animals that make up our world.