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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.
Born in 1967, Sabah Naim refined her craft in the College of Art Education in Cairo, where she earned her bachelor’s degree, masters and PhD. While she is considered a regular and prolific contributor, if you will, to fine arts in Egypt, she is also a professor at her college. ‘Sounds’ marks her first exhibition to be held at Safar Khan Gallery in Zamalek.
Aside from within Egypt, her work has been exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions around the world, in countries including Italy, Holland, Dubai and France. Furthermore, collections of her work are maintained at the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture as well being owned by private collectors around the globe.
Stylistically, her work in ‘Sounds’ is created primarily using inks and pencils on paper. Notably, there is an extensive repetition of colours, shape and flowers; the main subjects of Naim’s pieces. She has achieved a level of intricacy by layering multiple drawings on the page, with astounding attention to detail.
Her use of colour is predominantly subtle, whilst bold tones such as blood red or dark blue are used on occasion; the majority of her palette is laden with calming greys, light blues and beiges.
In combination, the artistic choices that Naim has made exhume a sense of infinity, where all the elements of the pieces blend harmoniously. One could study her pieces for hours and find that there is always more to be seen, and more observations to be made.
Aside from images on canvas, ‘Sounds’ also includes a number of notebooks that have been decorated in the same style as her larger works.
Some may argue that ‘Sounds’ is too repetitive and lacking in drama, so to speak; however, there is an overwhelming sense of comfort achieved by her minimalistic, yet intricate pieces, capturing attention by their hypnotic properties.