Sign in using your account with
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.
When it comes to artistic variety, Zamalek’s Art Corner never fails to deliver, particularly in its current group exhibition, Ta7ya Masr, which includes a large collection of paintings by some of Egypt’s most talented artists, each showing a variety of techniques and ideas. While the exhibition has been held to commemorate the New Suez Canal, it doesn’t exclusively feature elements of patriotism and explores much more.
Some people say that art should evoke some kind of feeling or emotion from the viewer, even if it a negative one. In the first collection of paintings by Mohamed Tamam, the process and technique are clear too see; thick layers of dark blues and vivid yellows are applied by a palette knife to create a heavy pasted effect. The subject is unclear, though the first piece shows a face with red eyes and open-mouth, below it a human body lying down and could perhaps represent a death; it appears figurative, scenic and expressive.
Our favourite of them all had to be the three gigantesque paintings by Fathi Ali whose focus is on the darker side of life; in his first painting, he portrays a group of people who appear to be Egyptian from their long gallabeyas and head scarves. Three of them have faces that portray a feeling of obscurity and confusion through the dripping marks and empty eyes, though the most disturbing part is the red face with the horns who clearly represents Satan and the presence of evil being among us.
In the next room there are two more paintings by Fathi Ali focusing also on a darker, but more topical, side of life – terrorism, particularly that of ISIS. The pieces show figures in the bright orange jumpsuits we have all come to despair at, with one showing not only the violence but also the sadness left behind as a distraught mother holds up a photograph of her son, alluding to the execution of 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya in February this year.
Testament to the sheer and boundless variety of work in the exhibition, one of the other collections that catch the eye are some cartoon strips and paintings looking at Egyptian heritage; one is a beautiful rural painting by Eman Hakim of an old lady in a scarf on a background of mixed countryside scenes. The colours are soft greens, blues and yellows creating a relaxed and positive scene.
Though the gallery space is quite small, Art Corner’s latest exhibition manages to bring together a collection rich in variety, style, colours and subjects, despite its name.