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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.
Hanan Ghanem’s ‘Colourful Passion’ is the latest exhibition in Cairo to demonstrate that Egypt is not only brimming with talented artist, but that said artists form an eclectic and evolving scene.
Born in Alexandria in 1972, Ghanem graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts Alexandria. Having held several solo and group exhibitions in Cairo and her hometown, her latest collection, 'Colourful Passion', displayed in Zamalek's Art Corner Gallery, explores a reflection of her identity with passionate colours and a world within a canvas.
While her inspiration for this particular exhibition was the January 25th revolution, 'Colourful Passion' conceives a notion of a force and vigour that woman – in the collective sense – reaps through adversity
Infusing an idea of female sentiment in all of her pieces, Ghanem’s paintings are all painted on large canvases, almost life-size.
Showing both struggle and beauty, her large canvases show faces of diverse women from different cultural backgrounds, reflecting expressive features and symbolic fine points using a combination of radiant and gloomy colours.
With exceptionally diverse imagery, Ghanem’s unique talent lies in her ability to create life-like narratives with a twist of illusion.
One of the larger canvases stood out, taking on a pitch-black background and sinister looking figures in natural colours. A large face with attractive Arabian features, piercing eyes detailed to the point where it feels like they’re staring back at the audience with an expression of grief.
Highlighting the borders of the piece was blue-azure smoke, portraying a spiritual essence. The whole piece was rather unnerving but flares with talent.
In another painting, her use of colour blasts more intense and passionate vibes featuring another engaging feminine character with ice-blue eyes. The face is eclipsed with dark shadows and vibrant shades of red and orange, giving a dramatic effect. While the piece itself is complex with details and outspoken with colours, it dominates the rest of her work and may slightly overshadow it.
Ghanem’s pieces combine intensity, beauty and a dramatic use of colours which all come together to make very individually-engaging artworks.