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Picasso Art Gallery: 'Colour Vision Angles' by Attyat Saed
Born in Cairo in 1935, Attyat Saed came to prominence as an artist after studying at the institute of Art Education when she graduated in 1958. Prior to dedicating her life to the arts, Saed was an illustrator at Al Gomhoria and Al Masaa newspapers at the grand age of 65.
Before she turned professional, so to speak, in 1995, she had already held various exhibitions of her press work in the 70s and 80s. Since her retirement from the media, she has compiled various solo exhibitions throughout galleries in Egypt.
In her latest collection at Zamalek's Picasso Art Gallery, 'Colour Vision Angles', Saed presents a vast and varied collection of pieces in mixed media, unifying a variety of objects and characters under one exhibition. Avoiding a recurring theme or motif, Saed uses inanimate objects such as chairs, sewing machines and teapots on the canvas, along with schools of fish and people.
Her style possesses a vintage vibe, rife with aggressive, yet controlled brushwork, combined with subtle pastel shadings to add depth and texture; her technical flair is enhanced by an unrestricted and adventurous colour scheme. Stemming from her long time spent in the press industry, Saed also has a distinct mastery of line manipulation.
It is not uncommon to see many of her paintings teeming with anxiety and tension. Her work is emotionally complex, even feeling haunting at times. Through her skilful execution, she infuses inanimate objects with personality.
For instance, in one painting from the sewing machine series, Saed has portrayed the machine in such a way that it seems boisterous and aggressive. The same can be said of the chairs she has chosen to personify with exaggerated curves and contortions in their frames.
In painting portraits, Saed has a taste for applying a rough and grainy texture, whilst putting many of her subjects alone in desolate and plain environments. In one piece titled 'Sitting', a young voluptuous woman is conjured using black and white paint, blended together to give subtle shades of varying degrees of grey. Though the woman rests in a cross legged position, a variety of bold strokes around her legs are indicative of motion. The emotional content of the painting suggests a time of youthful attraction, albeit tinged with a sense of unrest.
Colour Vision Angles showcases Saed's artistic variety, providing an opportunity to appreciate her intense style. It's a rarity to see an exhibition with such innate sense of expression.
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.