Picasso Art Gallery: ‘The Interplay of Marble, Stone & Glass’ by Ketty Abdel Malek
Art, in the broadest sense of the word, is a tricky thing. The finished product rarely communicates the process that produced it – none more so than with mosaic-work. It’s not just a matter of sticking things next to other things; the influence of architecture means that between preliminary sketches and picking colours, to breaking up your medium and finally piecing it backing together, it’s an art-form that is every bit as complex as it is fantastical. Despite its intricacy, it remains one of the oldest art forms and one that is still largely popular in art and architecture today.
Egyptian artist, Ketty Abdel Malek, is one such practitioner of mosaic-work. Having French Literature before moving into inking and sculpture, she eventually found her way to world of mosaics, which she studied in Rafina, Greece. She excelled in her pursuit in the art-form by freely using different types and colours of stones on a single canvas, unhindered by traditional schools of thought.
Currently a member of the British Association for Modern Mosaic and the International Association for Contemporary Mosaics, she has been featured in numerous international galleries the last of which was the Museum of Contemporary Art in Macedonia.
Her current exhibition, The Interplay of Marble, Stone and Glass, at Picasso Art Gallery, is split into two; the first contained a large number of medium-sized mosaics, tied together by a bright and almost cheerful colour palette. The works involve classical themes, but approached in a more contemporary sense. An example of this is a mosaic of the Virgin Mary carrying the baby Jesus, where the artist depicts the characters with Oriental facial features.
Another piece that attracted our attention was a 100×70 piece titled Aton. Pharaonic reference aside, the portrait depicts the sun over the river Nile, using a mixture of dark blue tiles mixed with hot coloured tiles to depict the sun and life flowing from it.
Abdel Malek hasn’t only proved she is one of the big names in contemporary mosaic-work, she also exhibited classical pieces as well, including one very special piece titled Segada; translating to ‘carpet’ or ‘rug’, it’s traditional in the sense of its motifs and symmetry. Though seemingly much simpler in conception than the other pieces, the intricacy and detail is no less.
The second section contains collages made with very different mediums. The portraits are abstract in nature, but one can create harmony between the different shapes made from pieces of the same medium. One in particular stood out, with the use of black ink and splashes of brown paint combined with shreds of paper. This technique is employed several times through the exhibition and, although abstract than the mosaics, it still manages to be simple, lively and visually engaging.