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Sunday, 17 November 2019

A world of shoes makes it to the Townhouse's exhibition halls

Ahmed Nage’s first exhibition in Townhouse explores the artist’s personal fascination with shoes

Marwa Morgan, Friday 27 Mar 2015
Exhibition About Shoes
(Photo: Marwa Morgan)
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Shoes fill the shop displays in Downtown. People stop-by, looking for shoes that match their taste, size, or the ones that follow the latest fashion trends. For artist Ahmed Nage, such scouting extends beyond the normal.

"This is an Exhibition About Shoes" is a new show at the Townhouse Gallery for Contemporary Arts, which opened on Sunday 22 March and continues until 22 April.

The artist – who "is crazy about shoes" as he describes himself – could spend up to half an hour examining a pair of them in a shop display. His search for details continues to take him not only to shoe-making workshops, but also to random strangers whose shoes interest him.

“I once stopped a girl in a metro; she thought I was harassing her,” Nage explains to Ahram Online.

"I didn’t leave till she took off her shoes and I took a picture of them. They inspired me to make ones for my mother."

Exhibition About Shoes
(Photo: Marwa Morgan)

A graduate from the Academy of Arts High Institute of Theatrical Arts and a graphic designer by profession, Nage grew up with his grandfather who "forced him to learn how to make shoes against his will," the artist reveals.

Years later, the grandson is about to launch his own shoe brand.

In addition to cobbling skills, Nage inherited rare old tools that date back to the 1930s, from his grandfather.

Despite the commercial wave that has flooded the market with “poor quality factory produced” shoes, Nage follows old school methods to produce footwear, which to him, represent an artistic value not a commercial one.

Exhibition About Shoes
(Photo: Marwa Morgan)

Besides leather, the artist incorporates untraditional material in his practice: jackets, blankets, carpets, trousers and animal skin – all representing potential shoe material to Nage.

“I have this shoe that I did not want to exhibit, it’s made of fish skeletons. I spent two years collecting material to make it.”

Inspired by his graphic design and graffiti background, Nage is planning to experiment with 3D printing in his shoes, to incorporate graffiti and Arabic calligraphy.

Exhibition About Shoes
(Photo: Marwa Morgan)

The artist’s graphic design background has worked in his favor in different ways.

In fact, at first he did not plan to hold an exhibition of shoes.

It was when he applied for a graphic design job at Townhouse that he was invited to hold his first solo exhibition in the gallery’s space.

Exhibition About Shoes
(Photo: Marwa Morgan)

Featuring shoes, tools and sketches, the exhibition represents a "window into traditional shoe making, an art that needs to be preserved," Nage explained.

"Reactions to the exhibitions varied, between appreciation and invitations for future collaboration, and confusion about the purpose of the show which provoked conversations."

“Some people came in and asked me to fix their shoes,” Nage continued.

“A group of kids went in and started negotiating the price of a pair of shoes, that were not for sale to begin with,” the artist smiles.

Exhibition About Shoes
(Photo: Marwa Morgan)

Nage said that the exhibition is a starting point of more collaboration with Townhouse. In his conversation with Ahram Online, the artist revealed a potential collaboration with renowned artist Huda Lutfi, which will be exhibited in Townhouse.

“I am still experimenting with different material and styles that I would like to present with my art to new people.”

Exhibition About Shoes
(Photo: Marwa Morgan)

 

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