Mazag: Mostafa Rahma Exhibition Captures the Essence of the Egyptian ‘Mood’
While the exact translation of the Arabic word mazag means mood in general, in Egypt, we tend to use this word to describe anything that’s savourly done; be it a habit, a hobby or even a job. So when we say that something is done with mazag, we mean it’s made with love.
There couldn’t be a more definite title to name Mostafa Rahma’s latest collection displayed at Zamalek’s Picasso Art Gallery. For, whether it’s in the sceneries or in Rahma’s enchanting technique, the exhibition harbours the very meaning of mazag.
Medium in size, but rich in detail, are the first three paintings that greet the viewer as he passes through the entrance of the gallery. Comprising three different palettes of reds, blues and orange, the paintings are laden with whatever defines the Egyptian collective consciousness; from the Coptic symbols and folk fables, to the traditional jugglers and food carts, all is present in harmony.
While the previous paintings standout with their elements, they are in accord with the concept of Mazag through Rahma’s refined technique, which telltales the enjoyment in every dab of brush and paint exerted in his masterpieces. Known for his vivid palettes which depend on solid primary colours, Rahma has a beautiful painting method that adds a velvety texture to his work.
With the same technique, Rahma explores the concept of the exhibition by portraying a number of women enjoying a moment of Mazag. In one painting, we see three ladies seated around a table playing cards. In another, we have a view of a cross-legged lady on a sofa, savouring a cup of coffee and a cigarette. In both paintings, the ladies are seen from a front view, but the tables are seen from an elevated perspective.
But wherever Rahma’s meditation on the concept takes him, we still see traces of Rahma’s loyalty to what is Egyptian. In one of the paintings, a lady, seated on the floor, is feeding a goose – a common practice in rural areas. There’s also a painting where a lady is seated by a table, on which there’s a teapot and a cup, while a waiter in traditional clothes is hovering in the background.
By far one of the best exhibitions of this season, not only does Mazag perfectly encompass the definition of ‘mood’, it is a good-mood setter in itself; magical and untied to the stagnant logic of the real world.