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Ubuntu Art Gallery: Halim Yacoub Exhibition
For ten days only, Ubuntu Art Gallery is displaying a collection of sculptures by renowned artist, Halim Yacoub, who is both an acclaimed sculptor and talented painter. This exhibition features some of his most intriguing pieces of work cast from bronze and the material alone fills the gallery space with a glorious glow.
From the moment we entered Ubuntu's glass doors, we could see that the gallery is filled with a ray of figurative monuments ranging from a height of approximately one-to-two feet tall and each presented on a marble plinth. The general concept seems to be around animals and humans with shape and form being an important feature. Then there's the material itself; Yacoub takes full advantage of bronze an ideal material when making sculptures, filling his pieces with the finest details, with the reflective qualities adding richness.
The first piece to catch our attention was the one of a duck-like figure; it's only from the shape of the beak that one can associate it with a duck rather than a chicken or other bird, though the one leg that is visible is long and thin like that of a flamingo. The body itself is made up of bold curves resulting in a plump shape, though it does lack detail and should this sculpture be turned on its side or positioned at a different angle, it might be impossible to associate it with a bird at all.
Another sculpture portrays a horse, though it seems to show it in a more grotesque form than traditional arts have presented the animal historically. The legs are thick like tree trunks, it has a large upper body which suggests the horse is masculine, as does the strong face and the mane consists of sharp triangle shapes. However, despite the bizarre portrayal of the horse in terms of shape and form, the way the bronze material captures the light still bestows it a certain sense of honour, pride or position.
Born in 1937, Yacoub graduated with a degree in Interior Design in 1960 and then, in 1967, went on to achieve a Diploma from Zurich Academy of Fine and Applied Arts. He has since been widely recognised for his sculpture work and this exhibition is a true portrayal of the artist's talent and ability in creating eye-catching works of art, showing familiar things, in an unfamiliar way.
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.