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Safar Khan Art Gallery: 'Sounds' by Sabah Naim
Born in 1967, Sabah Naim refined her craft in the College of Art Education in Cairo, where she earned her bachelor's degree, masters and PhD. While she is considered a regular and prolific contributor, if you will, to fine arts in Egypt, she is also a professor at her college. 'Sounds' marks her first exhibition to be held at Safar Khan Gallery in Zamalek.
Aside from within Egypt, her work has been exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions around the world, in countries including Italy, Holland, Dubai and France. Furthermore, collections of her work are maintained at the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture as well being owned by private collectors around the globe.
Stylistically, her work in 'Sounds' is created primarily using inks and pencils on paper. Notably, there is an extensive repetition of colours, shape and flowers; the main subjects of Naim's pieces. She has achieved a level of intricacy by layering multiple drawings on the page, with astounding attention to detail.
Her use of colour is predominantly subtle, whilst bold tones such as blood red or dark blue are used on occasion; the majority of her palette is laden with calming greys, light blues and beiges.
In combination, the artistic choices that Naim has made exhume a sense of infinity, where all the elements of the pieces blend harmoniously. One could study her pieces for hours and find that there is always more to be seen, and more observations to be made.
Aside from images on canvas, 'Sounds' also includes a number of notebooks that have been decorated in the same style as her larger works.
Some may argue that 'Sounds' is too repetitive and lacking in drama, so to speak; however, there is an overwhelming sense of comfort achieved by her minimalistic, yet intricate pieces, capturing attention by their hypnotic properties.
While the late Inji Efflatoun has become known for her colourful paintings, Safar Khan Gallery’s current exhibition shines a light on Efflatoun’s ink-on-paper collection, ‘Freedom After Prison’. Utilising the chosen materials through different techniques, Efflatoun created a diverse collection of sketches, which depicts life in the Egyptian countryside.
In some of the paintings, Efflatoun used staccato pen strokes to form the scene. One of them is ‘Rest Time’, in which the artist drew the masses of resting workers, adding a touch of detail here and there to break the detachment of the outlines.
On the other hand, other paintings boast a flowing outline, especially the ones including palm trees and greenery. In one of the best pieces in the exhibition, Efflatoun not only studies the form of palm leaves, but she also adds a creative touch to this simple form, filling the thin outline of the element with waves of ink, using the wide tip of a black marker.
Merging between the previous two techniques, Efflatoun drew a number of scenes that portray the dwellings of the peasants. For example, in one of the paintings, the artist used a continuous outline to draw the houses, while pen strokes were used to form the shape of other details, like palm trees or straw ceilings. Where necessary, Efflatoun used the wide tip of the marker for creating shades.
Though the different shades of ink are dominant in this exhibition, the gallery shows four paintings in colour, three of which are by Efflatoun herself and the fourth is by the exhibition’s guest of honour, the late Taheya Halim.
While two of Efflatoun’s were placed in near the front desk, making it difficult for the viewer to have a close look at them under the stares of the curators, the third, which portrays the artist while working in a simple set of brush strokes, is placed amidst the other ink paintings. However, being the guest of honour, Halim’s Painting, which depicts a Nubian couple seated on a bench, is centred on the wall facing the entrance.
And whether in colours, or merely painting using ink, ‘Freedom After Prison’ is sheer proof of the artist’s brilliant ability to create animated paintings using different mediums.