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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.
Picasso Art Gallery is known for its refined taste in art, which is shown in its latest exhibition, ‘Calligraphy is My Life’, by Egyptian artist Khudair Al Borsaidi.
Born in Port Said in 1942, Al Borsaidi discovered his passion for calligraphy at the age of five, when he would write slogans on walls using blue paint which, at the time, people used to cover their windows, protecting themselves from air raids.
Al Borsaidi’s slogans denounced the British occupation at the time and prompted his frequent imprisonment and further threats to arrest his father.
Al Borsaidi focuses on the art of calligraphy using verses from the Quran, creating beautiful, sensual swirls over crisp, white canvases, some of which include handmade paper.
One of the artist’s interesting pieces is the portrayal of God’s 99 names as cited in the Quran in a decorative and colourful style, with each of the holy names having its own little bubble of colour. They intriguingly come together creating the word “Allah” up-close, and the image of a mosque from a distance.
Some of Al Borsaidi’s featured works include simple words like ‘Alhamdulillah,’ whereas others feature ancient proverbs that are slightly longer in length. One of his vertical pieces, coloured blue, black and purple, translates to: ‘Hold your tongue or the snake will bite’; an ancient proverb implying the importance of being careful with what we say and to think before we speak.
Though this exhibition focuses on the artist’s delicate calligraphy, there are also some tiny images entwined with the letters. One particular piece features tiny flowers, a small painting of red lips and two eyes, with words that translates to: ‘My eyes will never look at another beauty.’ The images are painted just as delicately as the letters themselves, portraying a sophisticated touch that gives each of the pieces a sense of movement. Though the meanings behind the writings might not be clear to non-Arabic speakers, gallery visitors can nonetheless appreciate and enjoy Al Borsaidi’s pieces purely on a visual level as he demonstrates the power of art and words combined.