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Safar Khan Galllery: 'The Journey' by Marwa Adel
The exhibition is made up of large, black and white female silhouettes on several layered backgrounds, displaying the inevitable life journey that is socially expected and set out for many Arab women from birth. The pieces use a variety of media and show a cycle from birth to marriage, to house-wifery, pregnancy and back to birth.
The backgrounds of each piece are made up of images from Google maps. Adel explains that as technology is becoming more advanced, anybody can go online and find one another, all over the world. However, an Arab woman's location remains unchanged; you're likely to find her hidden away in the home.
The second element to the background is an impression of the iconic material of marriage; an elaborate lace – in this case, one from Marwa's own wedding dress. The lace further represents a woman's fragility and also projects Adel's individual experience within societal expectations of women's roles.
Many of the faint silhouettes featured in the pictures either have their faces covered or have their heads turned to the side. This shows that it is not a woman's actual identity that concerns the audience; in fact, she has no identity or significance beyond conforming to the role assigned to her.
Possibly the most powerful image is one that outlines what happens after marriage; the marital bed. Flying locusts consuming dreams, a pregnant figure in a wedding dress and a baby born into a cage - a metaphor for the birth of a girl; one who is immediately born into a prison and restrained by the bars of repression.
Taking a different stance, and sending a slightly separate message, is a set of three monotone pictures with a faint silhouette slowly uncovering her face. Placed against the background of a brick wall – part of an ancient mosque in Dubai – it symbolises the walls built around Muslim women in traditional Arab countries. Through slowly revealing the model, the message is that, over time, if women are strong and break down the barriers they are faced with, their hopes, dreams and existence can eventually be recognised, respected and encouraged.
There is a great deal of admiration for a talented young woman who refuses let repression prevent her from expressing opinions and choosing to have a career, no matter how frowned upon this may be to some.
Both the beautiful art work and opinionated theory are interesting, emotive, dynamic and add to the long-standing feminist fight for women's equality in society.
Proving that art immortalises its creator, Hassan Soliman’s ‘Last Works’ exhibition at Picasso Art Gallery shows the late artists work can still conquers gallery halls to fascinate art enthusiasts in Cairo.
As the exhibition’s name suggests, this show documents the final episode of Soliman’s successful career, which mirrors the disposition of an illness-laden artist. The artist’s last paintings split into two collections; the first is a number of still-life paintings in colours, while the second depicts sceneries of seamen in Egypt painted entirely in black and white.
While the high-contrast bright palettes of his earlier works showed boldness, this collection, which boasts a variety of pastel colours intermingled with grey and blue, reflects a meditative mood. In a painting, the loneliness of the white plate placed before a widow added a dramatic feel to the already sombre mood of the whole work. In another, the cheerful view of fresh pink roses was mellowed by a number of dried petals placed on white cloth next to the flower vase –a thing we perceived as a symbol of death.
With no death allusions nor lonely elements, the masterpiece of this collection that comprises a number of scattered pears, a bowl and cup placed on a table has a magnificent palette of grey, blue and green. Also, what makes this painting stand out is the angle with which the Soliman viewed his elements; while the rest of the paintings shows a front view, this particular painting shows a slightly elevated angle creating a more brooding feel to it.
Despite being known for his monochromatic paintings, the exhibition’s paintings of the same style are not as bright as his earlier works. Dominated by the dark shades of greys and sepia, the paintings in general almost have no room for brighter shades or whites, even when the elements demanded otherwise. For example, the white sail of a boat that takes over a painting has a dim tint to it, giving the whole scenery a dreamy impression.
Although Soliman has bidden us goodbye, this emotional collection enriches his legacy and pays a fitting tribute to a characterful artist.