Pulse II exhibition at Tache Art is the sequel to Pulse, an exhibition that took place last October and which featured artwork by 47 young artists. This time, Pulse II presents 19 artists, allowing each of them to enjoy more wall space and unfettered attention.
Pulse II brings together diverse styles and contrasting subject matter: trains in mixed media, pop-artsy birds, embracing lovers and levitating sculptures... all under one roof; the collection carries the heartbeat of befuddled youth.
Indeed the exhibition takes young art to a whole new level; the youngest artist featured, Samo, is 12 years old. Enabling budding artists to showcase their work on the same walls where Adel El Siwi, Mohamed Abla, Huda Lutfi and other prominent Egyptians previously exhibited, Tache Art contributes to a currently dynamic scene in Cairo.
While private galleries in Cairo previously focused on showcasing works by older, world-renowned Egyptian artists, the trend today is to feature artists at the onset of their careers. Moreover, the 25 January Revolution has brought about a wider margin of freedom in the arts. Inspiring the young and the old, such tremendous change (or seemingly tremendous change) infiltrated the art world, encouraging artists and curators to highlight youth.
As you walk through the door, you are stopped in your tracks, feet firmly on the ground, as you encounter two men lying on their tiny heads with their feet to the sky: sculptures that seem to be fighting a battle with gravity. Alaa Abd El Hamid’s pieces are textured and free-spirited, tempting you to lose your balance as well. Discernable through the collection are the influences of prominent Egyptian artists.
Emad Abd El Wahab paints children with blank, brooding features against striking colours and the occasional floral patterns in the background, a style evocative of veteran painter Adel El Siwi. Heba Hafez’s chaotic mixed media abstract pieces are heavily redolent of Khaled Hafez’s multi-layered work. The younger Hafez tackles questions of solitude and internal conflict through combining paint with text in different materials to create overpowering canvases that reflect the pandemonium of youth.
Among the most striking works are Malak El Shazly’s mixed media pieces. Tackling existential questions and playing around with dimension, El Shazly creates stimulating collages that reel you in. The artist mixes glossy magazine images with a rich palette, achieving surprising depth in the process. In one piece, a row of men kneel down and pray on the tracks of a train while a bridge on top alters your perception of the image.
Another strong body of work is Akram Fadl’s captivating portraits. Immersed in darkness, each piece resembles a figure withstanding a whirlwind of emotion. Fadl shows impressive skill in imprinting feeling on dark portraits, setting off a trance of contemplation.
Hend Samir tackles current-day socio-political question in lightly painted monoprints; text is juxtaposed with the figures of ordinary Egyptians, posing questions such as “Who will you vote for?” In one piece, Samir depicts a lady in her underwear, with text laid out in the background repeatedly spelling out the word “Bikini”. Commenting on the current obsession with the female wardrobe spreading through Egyptian society as Islamists gain power, Samir’s artwork is relevant to today’s socio-political dynamics. Her work is evocative of present-day emerging artists Hany Rashed and Ahmed Sabry, who both create monoprints that discuss contemporary socio-political dilemmas.
Also in monoprint, Kamila Bassiouni creates snapshots of rural Egyptian women. Reminiscent of the works of the late Vassela Farid, the pieces depict the countryside in the form of elegant figural representations of traditional women. The women demonstrate notable zeal and character despite being clothed in subtle tones.
The artists are clearly individual, each embracing a different style; Sarah Hamdy exhibits a large Monet-style painting where a girl plays with her cats, while May El-Shamy presents a Pop Art cat placed on top of a bird in flat colour. Perhaps multiple personality disorder makes for a good art show, after all.
Pulse II runs through 17 May
Tache Art Gallery
, Km 38 of the Alexandria Desert Road
, Sheikh Zayed City, Cairo
Sunday-Thursday: 10:00am- 8:00pm, Friday-Saturday 11:00am- 8:00pm