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Picasso Art Gallery: 'Directions' Group Exhibition
Currently occupying the walls of the Picasso Art Gallery, and well worth making the trip to Zamalek, is group exhibition 'Directions.'
The gallery, though not vast in size, is well set out and clearly signposted in the street. The chosen title, while a little on-the-nose, conjures up many connotations to the meaning and ideas behind the display of artwork.
Six talented Egyptian Artists have come together each contributing a body of their own work to make up one diverse and stupendous exhibition. The artists include Nazli Madkour, Amani Abd El Bari, Hend Adnan, Faten El Nawawy, Abd El Aal Hassan and Samir Fouad.
The first collection of work to greet us as we entered the Picasso Gallery, were the abstract paintings by Nazli Madkour which were both flamboyant and colourful with strong earthy tones. Nature, mostly flowers, appears to be this artist's theme within her paintings though colour and texture also play a very important role. Nazli Madkour was born here in Cairo, in 1949; she has a Masters Degree from the American University of Cairo and has had over forty solo exhibitions.
A little further into the gallery are a group of wildly, expressive paintings by Amani Abd El Bari featuring realistic central figures, in particular the faces placed on an abstract/expressive background. By incorporating two different styles of painting into one piece draws the attention to a particular part, in this case it is the faces and their tremendous details.
Hend Adnan takes a more realistic approach focusing on the female figure; different positions, colours and backgrounds. Born in Cairo, in 1970, Adnan pays strong attention to psychological moods and feelings, creating these using oil paints and forming a realistic representation of each individual of whom she paints.
Faten El Nawawy, born in Cairo in 1951, also paints in a realistic style when it comes to the human form though the figures appear to be almost flying through the air on some of her paintings and moving in quite unrealistic yet highly expressive ways. The mood in some of her paintings could be described as both joyous and energetic.
Abd El Aal Hassan, born in 1944, is another contributor to this exhibition though he paints in darker colours, more than any of the other artists though still focusing on figure and portraiture, capturing the life and hardships of each woman he paints. His paintings within the Picasso Gallery feature Bedouin women and the Bedouin life. To frame his paintings he uses sack cloth which is a wonderful and delicate touch to fit with the Bedouin theme, working class and poverty.
Samir Fouad, who was born in Cairo in 1944, is the final artist within this exhibition and his style is a mixture of figurative with some abstract expressionist pieces where the subject is unclear, however it is possible to make out some road signs and some form of transportation, quite possibly a boat. His art is said to capture the energy of a particular moment and the passing of time in a single painting.
Each artist within the exhibition has a strong and unique style of their own though in some way all share some familiarities either within their figurative subjects or style of painting. Overall, 'Directions' is an impressive exhibition full of beautiful paintings of an expressive nature and each one with their own intriguing meanings and stories hidden within.
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.