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Al Masar Gallery: 'Abstract Practices' Group Exhibition
Located in the beautiful Baehler's mansion in Zamalek, Al Masar Gallery is currently hosting Abstract Practices; a group exhibition bringing together the work of a selection pioneering contemporary Egyptian Artists.
Abstract art came to be 1910 and 1920, with the artwork of Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich setting the motion for a movement that has come to be one of the most divisive elements in contemporary art. It's a form of art that has often been misunderstood and therefore challenged by society for involving unconventional styles and for focusing more on shape, colour, form and line rather than portraying an image recognisable to the human-eye – something that it still faces to a certain degree in Egypt.
Portraying a segment of artists' life in Egypt, Abstract Practices is a welcomingly eclectic collection, featuring abstract paintings, sculptures and silk screen graphic art.
'Escaping The Light' is one particularly intriguing painting which takes form on a large canvas (80x120) and is completely immersed in thick layers of oil paint, which appears to have been applied using a palette knife. Looking closely at the layers, the colours don't mix into one another, meaning that each layer of oil paint might have taken months to dry before the next one was applied.
Made from polished chrome bronze, Essam Darwich's sculpture is another interesting piece which seems like a large slab of chocolate, for lack of a more explicit description, with its shiny exterior and subtle wave form.
Further into the gallery, Fouad Kamel –who uses oil on canvas- demonstrates his approach to abstract art through a shattered glass effect, using shades of blue mixed with white and black creating a shimmering impression.
Perhaps the most colourful and aesthetically pleasing piece, however, is an oil painting by Said El Adawi, which shows a series of abstract bizarre alien shapes amplified by their vivid colours and evoking various interpretations from the audience.
Al Masar Gallery is a fantastic space for displaying art due to its spacious complex and authentic design; a venue that's notorious for putting on a grand exhibition of Egypt's ground-breaking artists. 'Abstract Practices' might not be the most prolific exhibition, yet it is a true portrayal of how far Egypt's contemporary artists have come.
Proving that art immortalises its creator, Hassan Soliman’s ‘Last Works’ exhibition at Picasso Art Gallery shows the late artists work can still conquers gallery halls to fascinate art enthusiasts in Cairo.
As the exhibition’s name suggests, this show documents the final episode of Soliman’s successful career, which mirrors the disposition of an illness-laden artist. The artist’s last paintings split into two collections; the first is a number of still-life paintings in colours, while the second depicts sceneries of seamen in Egypt painted entirely in black and white.
While the high-contrast bright palettes of his earlier works showed boldness, this collection, which boasts a variety of pastel colours intermingled with grey and blue, reflects a meditative mood. In a painting, the loneliness of the white plate placed before a widow added a dramatic feel to the already sombre mood of the whole work. In another, the cheerful view of fresh pink roses was mellowed by a number of dried petals placed on white cloth next to the flower vase –a thing we perceived as a symbol of death.
With no death allusions nor lonely elements, the masterpiece of this collection that comprises a number of scattered pears, a bowl and cup placed on a table has a magnificent palette of grey, blue and green. Also, what makes this painting stand out is the angle with which the Soliman viewed his elements; while the rest of the paintings shows a front view, this particular painting shows a slightly elevated angle creating a more brooding feel to it.
Despite being known for his monochromatic paintings, the exhibition’s paintings of the same style are not as bright as his earlier works. Dominated by the dark shades of greys and sepia, the paintings in general almost have no room for brighter shades or whites, even when the elements demanded otherwise. For example, the white sail of a boat that takes over a painting has a dim tint to it, giving the whole scenery a dreamy impression.
Although Soliman has bidden us goodbye, this emotional collection enriches his legacy and pays a fitting tribute to a characterful artist.