Art is My Life: Zamalek Art Gallery Pays Tribute to Pioneering Artist Gazbia Sirry
Celebrating the life of Gazbia Sirry, Zamalek Art Gallery is hosting a retrospective exhibition for the Egyptian artist, who commenced her artistic journey after her graduation from Art School in 1948, before becoming a pioneer in the field. Encompassing the fruits of such a long journey of exploration and experimentation, the first hall of the gallery hosts her early work through to the 80’s, saving her most recent work to be displayed in the second.
One of her early Pieces named ‘Portrait of my Mother’, which was painted in 1951, showed early signs of her passion for vibrant colours, although the rigidity of the academic method is highly visible in this painting; shyly emerging through the bright blue dress of her mother, her prominent use of vibrant colours is still overshadowed by the dark firm outline of the realistic setting of the scene.
Slightly adrift from the academic influence, Gazbia Sirry’s realistic settings started to take a more decorative form in the 60s. While the portrait of a Nubian family (1962) still shows her reverence to realism through the defined figures of the family, the decoratively-oriented Nubian culture seemed to have ignited her yearning to experiment different shapes and colours – which is evident through the Nubian Symbols drawn in the background of the painting.
Though Sirry’s love for bright colours seemed to have been on hold in the 70s, the ‘desert’ period witnessed more freedom of form. For example, though earthy colours dominated the painting but for a strike or two of bright blue and magenta in a painting called ‘The Desert’, the movements of the brush are freer. Giving life to the desert scenery, such freedom forms a sea of crashing waves of sand out of what we usually perceive as naturally static.
This liberty of form was followed by an outburst of colours in the 80s, and that’s when Sirry’s distinctive artistic character took its prominent shape. Unlike the realistic human figures we saw in the Nubian family, the figures we see in a 1984 painting of a man and woman were effortlessly shaped by the brush, with different tones of brick red and green to give them detail.
But the full growth of Gazbia Sirry is obvious in her most recent work, which is on display in the second hall of the gallery. Named ‘Time and Space’, the artist’s 2013 collection showed her real passion for colours. In this collection, shapes and forms became of minor importance next to the vibrant primary colours, which solidly take the lead, dominating the viewer even without dominating the whole canvas.
All in all, though Gazbia Sirry’s journey to find her place in the world of art is enchanting and inspirational on its own, Zamalek Art Gallery has managed to get a hold of it and beautifully narrate it.