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Zamalek Art Gallery: 'Out of the Box' Exhibition
Art is not only about beauty and appreciation; sometimes it can be used to communicate a very important, global message to the world, as proven by Adel Moustafa. Born in 1980 in Kafr El Sheikh, but now based in Alexandria, this talented artist has enjoyed a privileged education achieving a Masters Degree in Fine Arts which led him to many exhibitions around the world including India, Italy and Yemen.
From the moment you enter the exquisite Zamalek Art Gallery, the colours of dust and smoke pollute the scene. It's murky, grimy and just plain unsightly but this is exactly what Moustafa wants to convey. The exhibition is titled 'Out Of The Box', and Moustafa certainly lets this reality out. The results are as clear as day and as broad as the headlines of a newspaper.
When you look a little closer and focus on the details, it's clear to see the images of cars, buildings and piles of rubbish which exist here as a clear representation of the pollution and damage we are causing every single day. Entwined within this polluted and unfortunate scene are shoals of fish which suffer and even die at the hands of our 'new world'. Every day when we drive our cars to work; smoke our cigarettes and carelessly drop litter on the floor, we are destroying another piece of our natural habitat and Moustafa conveys this idea perfectly and in numerous ways.
First of all, the vast size that he has chosen to display his work implies that the problem is also vast and growing. Second, the materials used; the artist does not simply paint the images onto the surface, he actually prints them on paper and then sticks them on which is rather ironic yet at the same time symbolic for this paper comes from trees and we are destroying trees every single day to create paper and then disposing of it. It can take a hundred years for a tree to grow yet seconds to cut it down. The message communicated through each piece is an important one and what a fantastic way to communicate it, through the beauty of art, something that we are inclined to stop and study for its meanings.
An interesting element that we can see in the paintings is the way in which the artist voids all rules of perspective and gravity, in fact it is as though he is creating a new world upon the canvas. Through our ongoing pollution we are also creating a 'new world' though unfortunately it is not for the greater good. Moustafa only opens the door to give us a peek of what may be around the corner for us. The exhibition though heavy in content was both enlightening and a representation of the artist's talent.
One of the more elegant touches to this exhibition was that whilst admiring, contemplating and appreciating these large, bold statements, a well-dressed gentlemen was serving tiny sandwiches filled with pate and creamed cheese later accompanied by a silver tray of drinks. If that wasn't enough there was also small orchestra performing an exquisite piece of music with string instruments.
Zamalek Art Gallery is well-known for holding marvellous, talent-filled exhibitions and 'Out Of the Box' has only enforced its excellent reputation. Moustafa has managed to combine the beauty of art and the importance of the world we live in into one strong, meaningful statement that will help work towards the greater good and the salvation of our world.
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.