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The Art Lounge: 'Fifth Generation' Group Exhibition
With a rich history spanning hundreds of years, arts and culture in Cairo is, in no uncertain terms, a vibrant one. Running alongside 'The Mirage II' at Al Masar Gallery, the Art Lounge is currently hosting a group exhibition titled 'Fifth Generation'. In celebration of some of the galleries previously featured artists, a selection of work from Hamdi Attia, Ibrahim El Dessouki, Essam Darwich, Sami Aboul Azm and Kareem Al Qurity are on show.
Each of the artists are linked together by their generation; all part of the fifth generation of the Egyptian art movement, they each embarked on their careers onwards from the 80's. Despite being from the same school of thought, the artist's own inspirations and motivations means that the pieces are all very different from one another, contrasting in both colour and technique. Along with a collection of paintings, there are also a number of sculptures on display.
Ibrahim El Dessouki presents two, life size, female portraits; 'Contemplating' and 'Light Blue I'. The first is of a vulumptious woman, standing in a long white gown, with her arms above her head. The latter is aptly named, with the model posing in a similar fashion, but in a light blue dress. The paint strokes used in both pieces appear similar to scratches, however, the skin of the women somehow appears flawless.
Kareem al Qurity showcases a set of three paintings, each in the same style. 'The Samaritans I' and 'Samaritans II' are mixed media pieces, showing groups of bronze, faceless people – similar to statues – huddled together on a textured background. 'The Chair Preaches II' shows these same figures, grouped around a large chair, as if awaiting orders.
While Sami Aboul Azm's pieces 'Dawn's Light of Hope' and 'Unveiled Ship' use dark colours with a slight sense of despair, Hamdi Attia's works are more colourful. Alongside his portrayal of William Penn's sculpture, 'Split Button', a set of four panels show abstract heads, barely distinguishable from the paint techniques and their backgrounds. Their titles are present as words on the pieces themselves, suggesting their natures; 'Likability', 'Stylish', 'Looking Good' and 'Intellectual'.
The modest collection of bronze statues includes five beautifully carved pieces from the internationally renowned Essam Darwich. 'The Cat' is one of the more contemporary pieces; it's smooth and rounded to suggest the shape of a sleeping feline, whereas the most intricate is the 'Legend of the North', showing musician, Sayed Darwich, clutching an oud, with detailed facial features.
The Fifth Generation is a small but varied group exhibition, revisiting a collection of works from previously exhibited, well-established artists.
Gypsum Gallery is currently displaying its first ever group exhibition in co-operation with Nile Sunset Annex to mark the end of the season. What Are You Doing, Object? is the bizarre and controversial title that has been given to this showing and immediately implies a sense of confusion.
A series of sculptures and installations make up the open space where visitors can walk around to inspect the art at every angle. The first piece to greet our eyes was by Hassan Khan, titled Double Mirror, which featured a large wooden frame of some sort; a mirror on a brass stand and a miniscule head made from mud and straw. Usually when a mirror is present it signifies that the artist wants the viewer to be part of the artwork itself though seeing all of these objects together evokes many questions and screams doubt and confusion. What is the purpose? What is the meaning?
Upon further research it seems that this doubt and confusion is actually the entire purpose of the exhibition. When we see a table our eyes immediately send a message to our brain outlining the purpose of a table and stating the obvious fact that it is indeed a table, the same with a chair; a fridge, a shoe, or any known object. Yet what happens when we are met with an unfamiliar object? Our mind will work and work to try and solve the mystery. It seems that it is a code to be cracked and a puzzle to be solved… or perhaps it is simply art. Art does not require a purpose to exist nor does it need a name, but nevertheless it is there.
Ironically further into the exhibition there is a piece titled ‘Navigation’, by Sarah Samy; a kappa foam cut-out situated on the floor and resembles a jigsaw puzzle yet it is an incomplete puzzle without an answer.
Another interesting aspect about What Are You Doing, Object? is that all of the materials used to create each piece are those familiar to us: wood, brass, mud, plastic, foam and fiberglass; this gives us a tiny piece of information to work with, though much like the jigsaw puzzle by Sarah Ramy, the rest of the information is missing. What Are You Doing, Object? is an aesthetically pleasing collection first and foremost, but the beauty of it is that each piece in its autonomous state could mean absolutely anything, or nothing it all.