As many countries throughout the Arab world continue to make history; Egypt and Tunisia are restructuring their political systems, and Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, and of course Libya are clashing with their governments, the exhibition at L’Atelier Du Caire certainly brings a smile to the faces of its visitors.
Down a small road leading to the gallery, L’Atelier Du Caire in downtown Cairo, an old man welcomes visitors and leads the way inside to the exhibition rooms.
White walls, ceilings and floors…everywhere is white, making the exhibited pieces stand out, with each having a different character.
Talented cartoonists from Egypt, UAE, US and Brazil have joined forces to contribute to the exhibition, with drawings based on the Egyptian 25 January revolution, under the auspices of the Fayoum Art Centre and the Caricature Museum, founded by Egyptian artist Mohamed Abla in 2006.
“The ‘Caricatures of the Revolution’ exhibition shows how cartoonists reacted to the recent events in Egypt,” says Abla. “Through poking fun at the dictatorship and the old regime, they can express their point of view,” he explains.
Egyptian artists including Makhlouf, Hany Shams and Mohamed Anwar ridicule the former president and his autocratic regime. In one black and white picture, Mubarak sits miserably inside a lit Molotov cocktail bottle.
One black and white image called the “US wants to keep the regime” shows US President Obama carrying the helpless Egyptian president on his shoulders, while another portrays Mubarak wearing sunglasses and looking arrogant, while fingers point at him.
Stealing the limelight in the exhibition, Mubarak stands with the Egyptian flag behind him and says, “I am Egypt”. Adding colour to another piece, the former president stands in the centre with blood up to his knees.
Illustrating the resistance of ordinary Egyptians in Tahrir Square (Liberation Square), Makhlouf depicts the Sphinx chanting the famous mantra of the people at that time, “He must leave, we won’t”. In another piece sharks are emerging from the Red Sea repeating the same chant.
Although the international cartoonists did not come to Egypt, “During the uprising international artists started sending us their work for this collective exhibition,” explains Abla. “The Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Lattuf is among those who were excited about this initiative and kept updating us and sending his work,” he says.
Among the international political cartoonists, a number of American artists contributed to this exhibition, including Matt Wuerker, Rob Rogers, Gary Huck and Kirk Anderson.
They presented multi-coloured pieces showcasing Mubarak as the face of the Sphinx with ‘Uncle Sam’ of the US on his back saying, “That’s awkward”, while the masses are emerging from under the Sphinx, making way for a large ‘Democracy’ sign to appear.
Emphasising the role technology played in the peaceful revolution, a caricature entitled ‘The Eighth Wonder of the World’ features a hand holding a mobile phone high, displaying a message on its screen saying “Democracy now”.
Hany Shams has drawn a medieval knight on his horse, but instead of a sword he carries a laptop with the facebook logo written on its screen. Shams named this piece ‘Weapons of the Revolution’.
Since its inauguration, the ‘Caricatures of the Revolution’ exhibition has been well-received by audiences and has gained international recognition.
According to Abla, “We have had visits from representatives of art schools worldwide, including a delegation from the universities of Tokyo and Heidelberg. They consider this as one of the most important exhibitions worldwide,” he claims.
‘Caricatures of the Revolution’ elicited a smile on many faces of the visitors who have attended the exhibit, as each caricature sums up Egypt’s tyrannical past with wit and humour.
Fayoum Art Centre will include more international workshops to document the ongoing Egyptian revolution.
The exhibition is at the Atelier Du Caire, 2 Karim El Dawla St., Downtown, Cairo and will be on until Thursday 31 March. After that the same works will be exhibited in Zamalek Club gallery