Safar Khan Art Gallery: Summer Collection 2015
Dating back to 1968, Safar Khan is often forgotten when speaking about Zamalek’s many galleries, but the refined and cosy, two-floor venue has a knack for putting together some truly marvellous exhibitions – the latest of which is the galleries annual summer collection.
The collection features paintings both large and small, as well as some fascinating mixed-media creations. One of the first pieces you see upon entering, Mohamed Ismail’s Metamorphosis, is a large painting in mostly black and white with a small area of deep red in the top left-hand corner. Created using oil paint on wood, large, bold marks stretch across the crisp white surface and it is clear to imagine the powerful movements used when applying them; a style today known as action painting or abstract expressionism. Though at first the painting appears too abstract to discover its true meaning, the closer we inspect the black marks, lines and shapes, we can see they are actually quite figurative. The colours black and red mixed with the strong, harsh movements used to create the piece indicate something strong and aggressive within the painting, perhaps between the people entwined within them, or people in general and if we go back to its given title it could even imply the metamorphosis of the people in society.
Another quite exquisite painting on the far wall by Kareem Abdel Malak appears to be a highly religious and powerful piece for the scene looks to be inside of a church of some sort which is further emphasised by the two large hands positioned as though they have floated down from the sky ready to communicate a message to the people. The title is Under the Same Sky which could suggest a bringing together of people and the idea of peace on Earth for we are all sharing the same ocean, land and ‘sky’. Most of the colours are monotonous which suggests the scene is quite dated yet the image itself is vivid and filled with intense detail. An interesting aspect of this painting is that the wood in which it is painted upon is divided into two, yet placed beside each other to create one full image; the two hands are also divided onto the two pieces of wood.
The collection of artists who have their work displayed within Safar Khan, are all talented, well-educated in the field of art and successful in decorating the walls of the gallery space creating a rich, artistic environment. Some are simple line drawings capturing brief moments of stillness and beauty; others are more detailed paintings both figurative and landscape each portraying an element of the artists’ souls. One delicately painted scene shows the interior of a large, ancient building, possibly a palace, with men inside wearing the traditional tarboosh and women with long flowing robes suggesting, along with the palm trees, that it is located in Egypt.
On the upper floor there are several unusual pieces featuring 3D objects collaged onto wood or canvas and even rope and softer materials which are fixated to create a 2D affect from afar.
On the whole, Safar Khan’s summer exhibition offers an exquisite collection of contemporary art available for viewing of the public in order to educate, enlighten and entertain, but even more so, to appreciate.