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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 on show at Zamalek’s Ubuntu Art Gallery is a diverse and exhilarating exhibition of visually stimulating sculptures by Khaled Sirag.
Ubuntu’s generous spacing allows you to stand back and clearly observe all the sculptures that the artist offers us and there are many thought-provoking pieces to captivate the mind. One that we found particularly interesting is the collection of ceramic vases, which are elevated from the ground using rope rather than on a plinth as one would expect. The shapes and sizes vary of these vases though the markings and polished exterior are quite similar.
Sirag primarily works with ceramics and, in this exhibition, most of the sculptures feature at least some component of this material, though he incorporates other materials within these pieces. He began his learning journey with ceramics in 1988; he was often inspired by nature and history, which is clearly demonstrated, in his final creations. This is apparent in one of the larger pieces, which features some kind of plant growing upwards from a glass vase filled with stones; now this is not your typical plant for the proportions are rather obscure and it has been turned upside down meaning that the roots are facing upwards towards the sky. The glass vase at the bottom is filled with white stones, though Sirag has added his ceramic touch at the rim of the vase using an emerald green finish to emphasise on the natural essence.
Looking around the gallery, it seems that the artist takes ordinary ideas and then turns them into bizarre works of art, where nothing quite seems to make sense, yet they say art should evoke curiosity and pose many questions and Khaled Sirag has left us with so many.
Another piece that stood out to us was a kind of collage-come-mosaic set out on the wall on two separate boards; they are side by side and together they form two wings which could be angel wings though considering Sirag’s passion for nature it is also feasible that they were inspired by a large bird.
It’s interesting to note that Khaled Sirag has won seven ceramic competitions in total and has participated in many exhibitions both in Egypt and overseas. Ma’at Changing Colors proves to be a pleasing exhibition inspired by those natural elements we find all around us.