The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

‘The Story of Arabic Calligraphy’ Group Exhibition at Art Corner

Art Corner: ‘The Story of Arabic Calligraphy’ Group Exhibition

reviewed by
Katie Dryden
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Art Corner: ‘The Story of Arabic Calligraphy’ Group Exhibition

Marking the month of Ramadan, Zamalek’s Art Corner Gallery has brought together the work of fourteen talented artists in group exhibition, The Story of Arabic Calligraphy, which serves to highlight the art of calligraphy and celebrate Egyptian and Islamic heritage.

Upon entering the exhibition, one of the first pieces to meet you is a delicate assemblage of religious words in gold and silver calligraphic handwriting, structured over a black background to form the image of a fanoos – the traditional Egyptian lantern that floods the streets and homes of Cairo during Ramadan.

Many pieces bring the touches on the politics of religion and religion as identity; a piece by Doaa Abdelhadi shows a faceless man outlined by his hair and beard in colour-splattered scene. The calligraphy on the piece translates to ‘My Religion is For Myself; The Religion of Others is For Themselves,’ – an apt and relevant message in Egypt’s fractured society.

Abdelhadi has contributed several other pieces in similar style, with one particular standout using the outline of a woman’s face and hair. The text over the piece translates to: ‘The Answer to the Question is How He Loves’ – another message that feeds into the exhibition’s goal in showcasing calligraphy as a visually rich and layered form of expression.  

Another piece by Doaa Abdelhedi depicts a colour splattered scene behind a faceless man who is made apparent only by the outline of his hair and beard.  The beautiful Arabic writing over it translates to: My Religion is For Myself; The Religion of Others is For Them.  This is quite an important message in today’s society as religion is often being attacked and discriminated when it should in fact be something sacred and important for each individual rather than being fought over publicly. 

Despite the title of the exhibition, there is also a mixture of figurative and scenic paintings entwined within, two of which were particularly detailed by Essam Kamal.  His first painting depicts a daytime depiction of a mosque and dated building in Old Cairo, while the second is of an old man carrying a tray of tea through a street, ready to serve it to customers.  The way in which Kamal presents these typical Cairo scenes is almost photographic in capturing the very essence of the place and even the kindness in the man’s face in the latter piece.

Art Corner may be a small gallery, yet their messages and ideas are often much greater in size.  This exhibition has proven to be a wonderful way to celebrate the month of Ramadan as well as highlighting its meaning to those who may be less familiar with the iconography of Ramadan and Egyptian culture in wider sense.

360 Tip

Art Corner's Ramadan hours are12PM-5PM and 8.30PM-10.30PM - closed on Sundays.

Best Bit

The different ways in which calligraphy has been used by the different artists.

Worst Bit

With this being a group exhibition, a brochure would have been handy - it gives each infiviual artists context in their own right.

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