Patience is a Virtue: Rabab Nemr is Master of Her Craft in New Exhibition at Zamalek Art Gallery
Over the past few years, the art scene in Egypt has witnessed the rise of many young talents, however, this season, the halls of many galleries around Cairo seems to be taken over by the newest artworks of established artists, including Zeinab Al Sageny, Mohamed Abla and Farouq Hosni, and many other big names in the field.
Joining the trail of giants with an exhibition of her latest collection is the Alexandrian artist, Rabab Nemr, who, turning 78 this month, presents a number of paintings under the title Patience is a Virtue at Zamalek Art Gallery.
Putting the title of the exhibition into practice, Nemr patiently hatched the large-sized paintings using radiograph pens to depict her most beloved subject; scenes from the life of seamen, as well as a variety of still life pieces.
Mostly formed of plants placed in pots, Nemr’s still life paintings are mostly dominated by black. In a black and white painting that depicts three huge planters placed next to each other, black ink creates the shadow, while the white of the background forms the light. What makes this painting beautiful is the amount of care given to the details of the shadow thrown by the pots.
Of the same subject, but with a more colourful palette, there’s a painting representing several flowering cacti placed in planters. The cacti comprise three shades of green, the planters are of reddish brown and the flowers are yellow, orange and blue. Despite the limited palette that ink offers as a material, Nemr makes best use of it in making colours a complementing guest to the perfectly-structured forms of the painting’s elements.
Apart from still-life paintings, almost all of the rest of the paintings reflect the artist’s reverence to her hometown, Alexandria, from which she presents many scenes using different elements, like seamen, boats and fish. In a colourful painting, in which Nemr uses the three primary colours in addition to brown and green, we see a group of seamen gathered around a pile of fish in the foreground, while in the background lie the sky, sea and four boats.
In another, a romantic scene of a seaman and woman seated on a bench overlooking the sea, where three boats are floating and in the background, loom a couple of mountains. While the colours of the first painting are altogether vivid, the colours of the latter are only vivid in the foreground, which fade into paler shades as they reach the background.
While for many artists, colours co-star with form to convey the idea of a painting, in Patience is a Virtue, we see form and structure play the main role in the paintings. There is no doubt that the technique, which Nemr uses in colouring her collection, demands talent and patience, but one can’t help but stand in awe of the brilliant architecture of every single painting in the exhibition. Patience is a Virtue is a unique collection that reminds us that artists never grow old, as long as they’re still working.