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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.
Zamalek’s Art Corner Gallery has garnered a reputation for exhibiting more versatile art for established as well as young aspiring Egyptian artists – something that can be seen in the gallery’s two-week summer exhibition featuring a multitude of artworks mostly exhibited over the past year.
Art Corner’s summer collection offers a delightful mix of styles in different in shapes and sizes; from gigantic abstract pieces, to smaller, more intricate paintings.
Perhaps the most prolific artist within this summer exhibition is Omar El Nagdi, with his delicately painted pieces mixed with bold lines and his signature gold frames. One of El Nagdi’s most remarkable pieces is an oil painting featuring Egyptians engaged in manual labour and wearing garments from different eras including the Pharonic era – a beautiful piece manifesting the working class in Egypt.
Another particularly remarkable piece – and quite large in size – is one by Taher Abdel Azeem, in which he composes a beautiful portrait of Old Cairo during nighttime when the place seems to have a magical glow. Abdel Azeem is a special artist known to capture scenes at their best, emphasising them in all their glory and splendour using an expressive style of painting as well as a limited colour palette.
Laila Allam also has several pieces displayed in the summer collection, one of which boasts a unique and modern style of portraiture. Born in 1932, Allam is a noted sculptor and an art professor whose refined work has earned significant recognition. Allam paints women with special features ; big eyes, plump lips, fiery red hair; in fact it seems the features have the essence of caricatures, where the artist focuses on a particular human feature and then magnifies it in some way. The most interesting aspect of Allam’s paintings is that all the drawn faces appear to be of the same woman, which stirs curiosity and a great deal of admiration to her style. .
Art Corner’s summer exhibition proves to be another successful and enjoyable celebration of some of Egypt’s most esteemed artists and it definitely offers a further insight into contemporary art.