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Ubuntu Art Gallery: Summer Collection
Though often overlooked when talking about Zamalek's many galleries, Ubuntu Art Gallery has slowly but surely carved out a place for itself in the local art scene.
Ubuntu's ethos aims to showcase the work of artists from all walks of life who simply share a passion for art; this is something that is apparent in the gallery's summer collection, which succeeds in bringing many different artists and styles together under one roof.
Before setting foot inside Unbuntu, two beautifully crafted Ramadan lanterns, decorated with swirling patterns and figurative drawings, will instantly grab your attention, which are the work of artist, Islam Al Rehani.
Once inside the gallery, there are several more lanterns by artist Nahla Reda who also has several mixed media pieces hung on the walls.
Some of the other pieces in the exhibition include scenic paintings of Cairo by Mohamed Khedr, who is known for capturing the peaceful state of the city by visiting the streets during the early hours. Khedr portrays snippets of Cairo in unconventional colours, including washed out greens and yellows, while, in some of his paintings, it almost appears as if it is raining.
A collection of calligraphic artworks are also featured in this exhibition, adding some diversity as well as visual tranquillity to the whole collection.
As a consistent visual element of how Islamic culture has come to be understood, calligraphy is an art that is created using delicate writing equipment such as a dip pen or fine brush, amongst others, to create harmonious, skilful handwriting – something that Youssry Dessouki coveys with his work.
With several pieces displayed at the far end of the gallery, Youssry delicately uses oil paint on canvas and ink on paper to create simple but striking images.
Two calligraphy pieces were particularly interesting in their depiction of tiny stick figures wearing the traditional 'tarboosh', with the text itself reading 'My God'.
Ubuntu's summer collection captures the gallery's approach to local art perfectly; it's a gallery that continues to provide a platform for the increasingly ecelectic Cairo art scene - a philosophy that saw it become one of the first venues to be awarded a Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Award in the 2015-launched arts & culture category.
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.