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

Picasso Gallery: ‘Gamal Abd El Nasser – The Dream’

Picasso Gallery: ‘Gamal Abd El Nasser – The Dream’

After
Mubarak’s pictures were taken down off the streets, you’d think that the
glorification of political leaders had come to an end. Apparently, Picasso
Gallery in Zamalek disagree and have launched a group exhibition of artwork
commemorating former president Gamal Abd El Nasser, which was inaugurated by
his daughter Hoda. The exhibition is titled ‘Abd El Nasser – The Dream’ and
remembers Abd El Nasser as a leader through various artwork. According to
Picasso Gallery’s press release, the ‘dream’ refers to Abd El Nasser’s
championing of social justice, freedom, dignity, equality and solidarity with
the poor.

The art gallery
displays different paintings by various artists from different time periods.
The styles range from pop art to abstract pieces. The most striking piece
without a doubt is Mohamed Sabry’s painting of Abd El Nasser addressing the UN
in 1961. Abd El Nasser is portrayed as larger than everyone, with the other
world leaders gazing on at him admiringly while listening to his speech. Though
the painting is quite impressive, it has some major faults (such as incorrectly
spellt country names) and the overall feeling is that the painter was either a
big fan of the leader or he was simply assigned to glorify him in a painting.

The same
can be said of Hamed Owais’ painting, where Abd El Nasser is once again the
bigger man surrounded by an audience in awe. This time, the audience consists
of Egyptians and the painting seems to imply that Abd El Nasser is in fact the
greatest thing that has ever happened in Egyptian history. Mostafa Hussein goes
one step further and depicts Abd El Nasser as Egypt. In this painting, Nasser’s
torso is shaped like Egypt with Egypt’s well-known artefacts drawn inside, and
above the torso is of course Abd El Nasser’s face. Helmy El Touny’s pop art
piece is more creative; as he has made great use of Abd El Nasser’s facial
features such as his distinctive nose and chin.

Though
the art on display is aesthetically pleasing, there is a certain undertone to
this exhibition that might not sit well with everyone. The exhibition
insinuates that the January 25th revolution is a direct result of Abd El
Nasser’s revolution. The booklet handed out in the gallery explicitly states:
‘And now six decades later the young people, together with the masses, of Egypt
have revolted, raising the slogans of justice and freedom and resurrecting
those unfulfilled principles, thus proving that the dreams of nations never die
until transformed into reality.’ Abd El Nasser fans will be thoroughly pleased.

360 Tip

If you want to take a piece home then you had better bring along a lot of money: the UN painting for example costs 3 million LE.

Best Bit

The pop art pieces by Helmy El Touny stand out amongst the more traditional paintings

Worst Bit

The overall rationale behind the exhibition seems to be imposing a very definite political ideology.

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