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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Lot 17: Black or White Exhibit
One of the great things about walking around in Zamalek on a sunny afternoon is the little surprises you find along the way. Lot 17 is a tiny, unsuspecting gallery on Mohamed Mazhar Street that promotes the works of local artists. The gallery is one medium-sized room that showcases local art in an intimate setting. Lot 17 recently acquired a new creative director, Lisa Lounis.
The Black or White exhibit is the second exhibit that Lounis has organised at Lot 17. It’s a collection of approximately two dozen works by local artists Rehab Seoudi and Shayma Aziz. The exhibit was not a collaborative work of the two artists'; their works are individually featured but sit side by side in the small gallery space. The only thing that connects all the works is that they are all in black and white.
Rehab Seoudi made a series of portraits from monoprints. Monoprinting is a versatile art medium, in which ink is applied directly to a plate or a piece of glass and the artist works in the negative to create an image. When the artist’s image is complete, a paper is pressed to the plate; imprinting the ink onto the paper.
Many of Seoudi’s monoprints were of baladi portraits of rural folk, including individuals and families. One particularly eye-catching portrait is of an older man with a white scarf wrapped on his head. The wrinkles on his face are nicely developed and a beautifully designed geometric window is behind him.
Shayma Aziz created several large full-body images made from Chinese ink on paper. The male and female bodies are accented by the interesting way that the ink bleeds on and through the paper, which has a very cerebral effect on the viewer. The artist uses this method to express a certain sense of sensuality about the human body.
Although it’s not the most conceptual exhibit in town, it’s worth a visit if not just to learn more about local artists and the techniques that they’re experimenting with. Black or White will be on view until June 8, 2010.
Eyes are the windows to the soul; an old saying that was perfectly demonstrated in Zamalek Art Gallery’s current exhibition, ‘The Magic Thread’.
‘The Magic Thread’ features a collection of unique, childlike and somewhat eerie figurative paintings by Syrian artist, Souad Mardam Bey, who, through her artistic talent and devotion, conveys intense feelings through the eyes of each painting.
Each painting portrays a different character; only it seems that the same captivating element in each one of them is the eyes, which seem to be filled with some sort of sadness or longing that can be further understood differently.
One particular painting shows a female figure –a child most likely— with her head titled to the side, smelling a white-petal flower with large longing eyes which seem to be gazing right out of the canvas. Everything about this painting is simple and bland; except the eyes, which are much more detailed and slightly bigger than one would expect which draws the viewer in even further.
The background of Bey’s paintings are simple and exist purely of one flat colour; which is why more attention is drawn to the innocent childish figures painted on top portraying a 2D style, similar to the one you find in children’s books.
Another painting that stood out depicts a young girl figure or doll, dressed up in a floral pink dress and make-up, looking into a mirror with large sad eyes, a common element in many of Bey’s artwork.
‘The Magic Thread’ is a title that not only draws on the childlike theme in this exhibition, but also evokes the idea of children’s toys and dolls coming to life, especially through their expressive eyes—which seemed to be the central point of this exhibition.
With its ray of unique large portraits and simple childlike style, Bey’s exhibition is without a doubt captivating one and it succeeded to attract a large crowd among art connoisseurs in Cairo.