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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.
Currently on show at Zamalek’s Ubuntu Art Gallery is a diverse and exhilarating exhibition of visually stimulating sculptures by Khaled Sirag.
Ubuntu’s generous spacing allows you to stand back and clearly observe all the sculptures that the artist offers us and there are many thought-provoking pieces to captivate the mind. One that we found particularly interesting is the collection of ceramic vases, which are elevated from the ground using rope rather than on a plinth as one would expect. The shapes and sizes vary of these vases though the markings and polished exterior are quite similar.
Sirag primarily works with ceramics and, in this exhibition, most of the sculptures feature at least some component of this material, though he incorporates other materials within these pieces. He began his learning journey with ceramics in 1988; he was often inspired by nature and history, which is clearly demonstrated, in his final creations. This is apparent in one of the larger pieces, which features some kind of plant growing upwards from a glass vase filled with stones; now this is not your typical plant for the proportions are rather obscure and it has been turned upside down meaning that the roots are facing upwards towards the sky. The glass vase at the bottom is filled with white stones, though Sirag has added his ceramic touch at the rim of the vase using an emerald green finish to emphasise on the natural essence.
Looking around the gallery, it seems that the artist takes ordinary ideas and then turns them into bizarre works of art, where nothing quite seems to make sense, yet they say art should evoke curiosity and pose many questions and Khaled Sirag has left us with so many.
Another piece that stood out to us was a kind of collage-come-mosaic set out on the wall on two separate boards; they are side by side and together they form two wings which could be angel wings though considering Sirag’s passion for nature it is also feasible that they were inspired by a large bird.
It’s interesting to note that Khaled Sirag has won seven ceramic competitions in total and has participated in many exhibitions both in Egypt and overseas. Ma’at Changing Colors proves to be a pleasing exhibition inspired by those natural elements we find all around us.