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

‘Metamorphosis’ at Safar Khan Art Gallery

Safar Khan: Gamal Meleka

reviewed by
Tara Fathalla
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Safar Khan: Gamal Meleka

it’s one of the smallest art gallery spaces in Cairo, Safarkhan in Zamalek never
disappoints with its new and exciting art exhibitions. This month, the gallery is
hosting the work of Gamal Meleka. Meleka was born in Egypt but has spent most
of his adult life in Italy, where he is a well-known and established
contemporary artist. After having various exhibitions throughout Europe, his
work can now be admired in Egypt for the first time. His current exhibition
‘Metamorphosis’ is a crossing of phenomena connecting Italian and Egyptian
culture, according to Meleka himself.

25 pieces are on display at Safarkhan at the moment. Most of the paintings show scenes at the Giza plateau; the pyramids and especially the sphinx are recurring
themes. Most pieces have only the basic colours of red, blue and yellow and are
topped off with gold. The use of gold leaf is very distinctive in Meleka’s work;
it gives a dynamic and glamorous element to the paintings. Most of the pieces
are somewhat the same with the sphinx in the foreground and the pyramids behind

There are
also paintings of people in front of the pyramids. The figures are drawn in silhouettes;
so their features and facial expressions are indiscernible. Also, it’s unclear
what purpose these figures serve in the paintings other than adding a human
element. Some of the works carry individual figures; others display
groups, including children and babies. In the paintings of people posing with
the pyramids, the objects aren’t always displayed in the correct order.
Sometimes you see a tiny pyramid popping up on the side and some of the
pyramids are actually drawn over the figures.

reviewer found the paintings of the Sphinx and Pyramids a little tacky; possibly
because of the gold trim that is typical of souvenir prints sold at tourist
spots. The connection between Italian and Egyptian culture addressed by Meleka wasn’t very clear to us. Instead; we found most pieces to be
explicitly Egyptian. If you have change to spare, most of the displayed
paintings are priced at around 30,000LE.

In this
reviewer’s opinion, the best paintings are the ones of the figures and the
pyramids. After months of being saturated with revolutionary art exhibitions
and projects, we’re happy to see the return of classic art themes.

360 Tip

You can learn more about Gamal Meleka and his work on his website.

Best Bit

We love it when local artists do such a great job in representing Egypt around the world.

Worst Bit

The gold pieces are somewhat tacky.

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