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Chocolate Lounge: Anas Al Alousi Exhibition
Chocolate Lounge in Kempinski Nile never fails to impress with their art collections, in collaboration with Zamalek Art Gallery a new artist is featured almost every month. Though up until now most of the works have been paintings by Egyptian artists, this month brings Iraqi born Anas Al Alousi. Apart from being a painter, Al Alousi is also a very gifted sculptor.
Chocolate Lounge and its adjacent foyer are filled with Al Alousi’s work. Even if you are not a big fan of sculptures you might find this collection interesting. Al Alousi is very creative and isn’t just another ordinary sculptor; as well as human figures he focuses on the more creative aspects too. We absolutely fell in love with his bronze ‘Jane Lamp’ piece. The piece is made up of a genie’s lamp with a figure coming out of it; the best part about it is that next to the lamp, at the foot of the sculpture, is a small bowl in which you can burn incense. The smoke rising up gives an extra mystic dimension to the sculpture. Further interesting pieces were ‘The Chair’; where some of the chairs are given human legs instead of chair legs; another one has a human torso as its back. We didn’t try the chairs out, but they didn’t look very comfortable.
Al Alousi combines his paintings and sculptures as well. He has one small painting with a sculpted human figure sitting inside the frame; this gives a 3D effect to the piece which is very pleasant. The painting itself wasn’t that spectacular, which is probably a good thing since it basically serves as a background for the sculpture. Most of Al Alousi’s paintings contain human figures; mostly long haired woman who seem to be balancing on another person or object. What’s striking is that these figures don’t have legs, instead they appear to be genie like. One of his best paintings is ‘The Immigrant’; in this piece there is a sole figure peddling on a boat at sea with a golden moon in the background. A closer look at the painting suggests there is a female figure lying down in the boat. This piece is available as a painting and also as a sculpture.
Anas Al Alousi’s pieces are very good but pricey too; prices for his sculptures can go up to 20.000USD so it’s probably best to appreciate his art while it's on display at Chocolate Lounge.
According to Bakry, ‘Missing Pieces’ represents the fragmentation of the revolution: “The spirit of the revolution ended up breaking down and as time passed the sense of unity was lost and divided into different sects.” He captures this fallout by projecting the photos onto staggered, cardboard boxes, forcing a metaphor blankly contrived.
“The boxes represent two things. First, they give a feeling of waste and consumption that exist in cities like Cairo. Also, the brown boxes when laid out together give a sense of Cairo and its brown, box-like buildings. The images projected onto the boxes are broken down by missing pieces,” Bakry explains.
Every five seconds, a new image emerges. Some pictures appear amateur and blurred; others are purposefully blotched by shadows from the boxed skyline. In one image, a bearded face is framed over a Nescafe box, and in another a woman is split by a gap between the cardboard. Below her it reads: “This Side Up.”
“That was the hard part. I had to go around to supermarkets, the huge markets like Carrefour and no one understood why I wanted old boxes. Here in Cairo, it was actually easy to just buy them. But in Gothenburg you had to be there at the right time and the right place before they recycled them,” Bakry says.
Outside the curtained room at Mashrabia Gallery are mounted images from Bakry’s Gothenburg exhibition for sale but not worth the bill. A free postcard by the entrance makes a better souvenir.
At first glance the installation looks like a haphazard stack of used boxes with a random mess of photos overlaid. And at second glance, the fact remains. But if we overlook the artist’s form, one can empathize with his statement on the aftermath of the revolution and the re-emerging protests to date. “A lot of missing pieces needed to be complete again. They made the mistake of dividing, that’s why the results now are terrible. People need to reunite again,” Bakry says.