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Zamalek Art Gallery: Gamal Al Sagini Exhibition
Gamal Al Sagini was very nationalistic and incredibly passionate about his home country, Egypt – and its people. Having been born in 1917 and dying aged 60 in 1977, Sagini lived through, and was inspired by, many historical events. His sculptures are generally large and abstract, made out of bronze, portraying many messages in the intricate detailing.
In 1969, when Gamal Al Sagini felt he was not getting enough recognition for his work, he threw some of his work into the Nile as an act of rebellion, claiming that if people cared, they would stop him. This certainly got him noticed and we're glad not all of his work was swept away.
The events of the Suez crisis in 1956 are represented by a tall, thin sculpture titled 'Port Said', completed in 1957. The front of this sculpture is a tall man wearing a traditional, long galabeya brandishing a gun above his head to signify the brutality of the war. There are also a number of descending parachutes in the sky above him to represent those used by soldiers involved in the conflict. Using the entire 3D model as canvas in itself, Sagini used the rear side of the sculpture to further depict the Israeli attack on Egypt, with the Star of David prominent amongst other emotive illustrations. An eagle-headed man stands at the base of the statue, with his arms outstretched signifying the freedom and power of the Egyptian land.
Another significant sculpture was one dedicated to the internationally recognised Egyptian singer, Om Kalthoum. It's a beautiful and detailed statue that was obviously created with a lot of care. Her body is made up of chunky triangles etched with Aztec patterns, glinting with the shine from the bronze. Her importance and popularity was prominent throughout Sagini's life and we assume that this, and her meaningful music, led to the sculpting of her almost shrine-like piece. Although we didn't immediately recognise this piece as Om Kalthoum, once we did it made sense that, judging by Sagini's patriotism, he would admire such a strong and iconic woman.
There are also numerous other sculptures on show, with significant stories behind each one. For example, a sculpture of a mother and baby entwined symbolises the gift of motherhood and the importance of nurture. His piece named 'The Nile' personifies the river into a wise, old bearded man, giving it a mythical feel.
Because little information on his sculptures is offered at the exhibition, Sagini's work requires visitors to carry out their own research. We're glad we did as it helped to uncover an eye-opening, opinionated and interesting history, confirming that each piece was an important outlet of expression for Gamal El Sagini himself.
Currently showcased at Zamalek Art Gallery’s Venue II, An Introduction to Voidness is an exhibition featuring a collection of exquisite bronze sculptures by Nathan Doss.
Doss’ unique sculpture pieces stand out inside the spacious gallery, with his style evokinga sense of the mystical, particularly when it comes to the lean stick-figures he has created, which appear to be stretching and reaching out for something.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect in those pieces is that though they feature both an object and a figure; the artist incorporates the two in such a way that they appear as one. In fact, in several of Doss’s sculptures, the viewer needs to apply much more focus in order to single out the figure entwined with the object.
One particular piece demonstrating that approach features a tall, lean figure thrusting a shovel into the ground. Both the man and the shovel are similar when it comes to their long, wiry shapes which have been merged together as though they are one.
A second sculpture depicts a man entangled within a kind of webbed-frame, though he doesn’t appear stuck or imprisoned by it, but rather part of it. This presents us with an entirely new object.
The title An Introduction to Voidness may be a reference to Doss’s style, which evokes many pieces containing holes similar to the ones we see in a honeycomb or a sheet of wire mesh. An Introduction to Voidness can also indicate a different kind of emptiness; one that exists inside a human being.
Born in Mallawy, in 1971, Doss earned a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in 1993. His subject matter varies within his sculptures,though most of his work is quite figurative and there is a small number which is more difficult to interpret due to a more abstract style.
With an intriguing collection of small scenery, birds and people all created from bronze and incorporated into one dazzling display; An Introduction to Voidness is a highly recommended exhibition with so much to offer; especially when it comes to some insights into Doss’ interesting sculpting approach.