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.
New art has been aplenty across Cairo this month, with the city’s galleries resuming normal service after the summer. Zamalek Art Gallery – boasting two spaces these days – has kicked off the season with a huge retrospective of the work of famed Egyptian artist, Mohie El Din Hussein – a man that is considered one of the best sculptors of his kind in Egypt.
The exhibition in itself is unique in that it hosts such a large collection of Hussein’s sculpting work – it’s so extensive, in fact, that it takes up both of the galleries separate halls, which usually host separate exhibitions. The materials used range between bronze to ceramics, meaning that there’s plenty of variations in Hussein’s pieces – in fact, some of the pieces are repeated, but in different materials. One such example is an abstract sculpture depicting an owl and another of a frog.
The most interesting material Hussein uses, however, is basic fire brick. Much of the pieces that use It are again, abstract human figures, with one of the standout pieces including a female face, painted in a striking green. Hussein’s pottery work has appeared in many a gallery and is a big part of this exhibition. Some of the pieces are atypical and unremarkable in form, relying more on colour, with an orange, blue and white one showing a set of simple, rural houses catching our eye.
Some of the more untraditionally-shaped pottery pieces are just as striking in colour, with one in particular stand out; the slanted piece fades between blue, olive green and orange.
The exhibition also holds a large number of murals, some of which are done over ceramics, while others see Hussein take a collage-like approach to their formation. Many of them are inspired by nature in its widest of meanings and colour, once again, plays a huge part in them.
Overall, the exhibition achieves its goal in paying homage to Hussein as one of the most influential and versatile contemporary artists in Egypt. If one needed any further proof, look to the fact that New York’s Everson Ceramic Museum house some of his work, as does Bibliotheca Alexandria – recognition owed to his innovative abstract expressionist approach.
(Photos: Zamalek Art Gallery/Facebook)