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Salah Taher: 100 Year Anniversary at Zamalek Art Gallery

Zamalek Art Gallery: Salah Taher

reviewed by
Anne de Groot
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Zamalek Art Gallery: Salah Taher

If the
artist is nicknamed ‘the yogi of Zamalek,’ you know you are onto something good.
Zamalek Art Gallery is celebrating the centennial anniversary of prominent
Egyptian painter Salah Taher.

Born in Cairo in 1911, this artist had an
impressive career, first as the head of the Museum of Modern Arts, then as the
head of the Khedival Opera, and finally in joining Al Ahram
newspaper, where he worked as the newspaper’s artistic consultant until
his death in 2007.

In 2001, he was honoured alongside Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz at the soft opening of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, where a book on his work
was published. Taher was also a teacher at the School of Fine Arts and an NGO was established in his name; the Society
of the Lovers of Salah Taher. One of his most famous fans was former US
president Richard Nixon, who bought one of his pieces. It still hangs on a wall at
the White House till this day.

Art Gallery currently has more than 130 pieces of Taher’s work on
display. All of them, to say the least, are magnificent. Taher’s work is
difficult to label. Some pieces could be put under the categories of
expressionism and classicism, while other pieces are very abstract and
surrealist. In the end, though; it is the epitome of Salah Taher’s distinctive

The collection
at Zamalek Art Gallery is a combination of paintings and sketches. The
paintings are very cheerful. A lot of colour is used, especially red and green;
giving the paintings an eye-catching factor. There are pieces of the Egyptian
countryside depicting daily life with peasants working on the fields and
coastline pieces with boats floating on the water. The coastline paintings could
be anywhere along the Mediterranean coast. The countryside pieces are timeless;
some clearly depict the Egyptian countryside in the same way as we still know
it today, while others could be of somewhere in Southern France.

A recurring factor in Taher’s work is women.
What is especially striking is that they are either nude or veiled and nothing
in between. The paintings are usually of women in groups, while his sketches focus
mostly on individual women sitting or lying down.

Salah Taher’s
work is for sale with sketches starting at 2400LE and paintings for up to
45,000LE. This is no surprise as Taher’s work is exquisite. From the biggest
paintings to the smallest sketches, all his works are masterpieces. Even if you
can’t afford to buy anything, you should definitely head over to the
exhibition. This is Egyptian art at its finest by an extremely talented and respected

360 Tip

Not all works are displayed at the Zamalek Art Gallery; some are displayed at the Kempinski Nile Hotel; so head there for the rest of the collection.

Best Bit

Wonderful and creative pieces of art.

Worst Bit

Sadly, several paintings were too expensive for this reviewer.

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