Four artists supported by Cairo’s Mashrabia Gallery — Adel El Siwi, Carmine Cartolano (QarmQart), Heba Abu El Ella and Mustafa El Husseiny — will exhibit their works during the upcoming 1-54 African Contemporary Art Fair set to take place 3-6 October in London.
According to the event organisers, the 1-54 is the first leading international art fair dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. The fairs take place on an annual basis in London (since 2012), New York (since 2015) and Marrakech (since 2018).
The fair's name indicates the 54 African countries represented by the exhibition in an attempt to shed light on the richness of African cultures and create a dynamic dialogue and exchange between them.
Work by Adel El Siwi (Photo: Mashrabia Gallery)
Born in 1952, Adel El-Siwi is one of the leading Egyptian artists of his generation. At the fair, he will showcase his paintings that tackle the subject of faces, which have become his trademark since the 1990s.
“El-Siwi’s elongated faces, which seem to be growing out from the surfaces, are the amalgamation of a three-pronged influence: the Pharaonic face, the African mask, and the Fayum mummy portraits. This gives form to an array of different personalities: amongst pensive moods and suggestive looks, some faces emanate allure and charisma, others intimidate, others reveal a subtle capacity of seduction,” the Mashrabia Gallery explains on its website.
El-Siwi has exhibited his works in Egypt and internationally, in both solo shows and exhibitions of renowned art.
Work by Qarm Qart (Photo: Mashrabia Gallery)
Cairo-based Carmine Cartolano, aka Qarm Qart, was born in 1972 in Buonabitacolo (Salerno). He studied Arabic and Persian at Istituto Universitario Orientale in Naples.
During the fair, Qarm Qart will present his series of tarboushes adorned with creative elements, a collection inspired by Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy.
The tarboushes offer "multiple layers of meaning in the interpretation of Egyptian pasts and presents. The tarboush as male headgear is now an historical relic. But what about its symbolic force of national and patriarchal privilege? The artist makes us ponder whether this privilege has gone with the tarboush itself as he ushers us into disquieting yet intriguing spaces," Mashrabia's website reads.
Work by El Husseiny (Photo: Mashrabia Gallery)
Cairo-based visual artist Mustafa Ali Saad (aka El-Husseiny) is considered one of the one of the most imaginative emerging artists of the contemporary Egyptian art scene with Mashrabia Gallery describing his works as "magical, symbolic, ironic and macabre."
“El-Husseiny boldly employs media such as paper paste, acrylic, and collage to show what he came across during his walks through the cemetery in search of a way to reconnect with his late father. El-Husseiny emulates the digging up of a past made of mysterious signs and re-conceptualises his personal research into an all-pervasive memento mori," reads the gallery website.
Work by Heba Abu El Ella (Photo: Mashrabia Gallery)
The youngest of the four artists to participate in the fair, Heba Abu El-Ella (born 1993), focuses on visual art and light design.
During the fair, Abu El-Ella will exhibit part of her project in which she explores the reality and metaphor of the boat.
Soaked in African and Pharaonic history and heritage, the installation is the artist's personal investigation into her roots and the environment in which she has developed. The boat carries multiple meanings for Abu El-Ella: in ancient Egypt it represents trade and transportation, death and burial, and the afterlife and belief.
"Heba Abu El-Ella’s evocative boat represents at the same time a place inside oneself, where lots of forgotten memories, worries, fears and wishes lie, and a place where the thread of history develops and recreates places that can't be found in everyday life anymore," reads the gallery website.
With its four artists, Mashrabia Gallery of Contemporary Art will showcase the works at the South Wing of Somerset House, Booth S3.
For more arts and culture news and updates, follow Ahram Online Arts and Culture on Twitter at @AhramOnlineArts and on Facebook at Ahram Online: Arts & Culture