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Arts & Culture
Safar Khan Art Gallery

Safarkhan: Mamdouh Ammar

  • 6 Brazil Street
  • Galleries
  • Mon - Sat, 10 am - 2 pm & 5 - 9 pm -
reviewed by
Heba El-Sherif
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Safarkhan: Mamdouh Ammar

For its first
exhibition in 2011, Safarkhan Gallery in Zamalek chose to tread back in time to
the gleams of the 60s and 70s, showcasing a selection of art by renowned
Egyptian contemporary artist Mamdouh Ammar.

His recent
exhibition, the simply titled ‘Paintings’ opened at Safarkhan on January 3,
2011. The collection of around fifty art pieces vary in terms of subject matter.
The displayed pieces– some of which were produced during his time in Paris– explore beauty,
intimacy and personal journeys as well as festivities and loneliness.  

One piece shows the
upper body of a one-eyed woman shedding white tears. Drawn against dark hues,
her eyes trimmed blue; this piece exudes a sense of loneliness. Unlike several
other works on display that depict joyous unions, the woman’s tears in this
painting evoke a fear of being incomplete.

Ammar relies
heavily on the use of the rounded, traditional figures of joint-armed dolls.
Another recurrent technique is his use of old newspaper as groundwork for his
creations, a technique that remains popular among younger artists toying with
authentic elements.

Young at heart,
Ammar does not shy away from using bald, peppy colours. In Two Dolls on a Blue Background, Ammar lays newspaper scraps for his ubiquitous dolls; stroked in a mix
of beiges and azure, resulting in a refreshing living-room type painting.    

Using oil, The Wall of Silence shows an intimate
union of two white dolls sitting against a faint background, as if nothing
exists but them; not even the surrounding walls.   

Along the staircase
leading to the loft of the gallery space hangs a drawing of an artist at work,
presumably Ammar. Dated 1951, the artist
is seen from one side leaning towards a copper plate as he hammers a nail in.  

A couple of other paintings
on display show groups of men fishing. Drawn to unusual proportions and carrying anomalous features, these pieces
transported this reviewer to the ancient years of the Pharaohs.     

contribution to both the Egyptian and international art scenes dates back to
the 1950s. Ammar created the
lightening mural at the Sadat Metro station in Downtown Cairo and the mosaic
mural portraying the battles of 6 of October at the 1973 War Panorama. If you are an art student in Cairo or an avid art connoisseur, you surely must have
come across his work at the Museum of Modern Art or the Museum of the Faculty of
Fine Arts
in Cairo.  

While the themes are
diverse, Egyptian elements are easily traceable in Ammar’s work, making this exhibition
a rightful kick-off to 2011at one of Cairo’s most celebrated art galleries.

360 Tip

Make sure to leave your contacts with the gallery manager; she will be sure to inform you of the next exhibition openings.

Best Bit

You can stop by during a casual stroll in Zamalek, and don’t forget to grab a cupcake at Nola afterwards.

Worst Bit

It’s a small space to hold fifty or so pieces, making the walls a little bit cluttered

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