Children’s drawings provide psychiatrists with important insights, but they also inspire grown-up artists like Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee.
Organised by The One Shot art group, founded and managed by artist and Fine Art professor Abdel-Aziz El Guindy, “Artistic Twittering” was a three-day exhibition of children’s drawings that opened on Tuesday 25 August at the Qordoba Art Gallery in Mohandesine.
The story started many years ago, when El Guindy decided to start a weekly outdoor drawing programme for amateurs and professionals in the older neighbourhoods of Cairo.
“That was back in 2001, and I started with a small group. The Number of shotters is now over 300. It has been like a Friday demonstration – for art. We go to historical areas like Fatimid Cairo, the Citadel, or else we visit the Aquarium or attend a puppet theatre show. Some 35 exhibitions of adults’ work have come out of our work."
"But a few years ago, members asked me if they could bring along their children, and I thought this was a brilliant idea. Children have added to the flavour of our excursions, which feel like giant family outings now. And watching them draw is an inspiration in itself.”
Since then, El Guindy has developed expertise in teaching and interacting with children through summer courses at the college too.
“I enjoy the children’s company. I refuse to exercise any control over children’s drawings. I never comment on or direct the way they draw.
"I just introduce new ideas and techniques. We, the adult group, learned a lot from their unique style: no perspective or specific measures, unlimited free imagination and unexpected composition and choice of colour."
"After almost a year and a half of practicing different art styles, I decided to show their beautiful drawings to the public – and here is our first show.”
Around 150 paintings by 29 young artists were selected. Cheerful colours, spontaneous lines and strangely, sometimes tellingly proportioned figures make for beautiful art.
In every drawing, there is balance and harmony. And all testify to the surrounding environment: family, pets and buildings.
But unfamiliar figures, like the four-legged child collaboratively drawn by Momen Mahmoud and Mohamed Saber or bushes stretching out of human fingers by Abdelrahman, are equally evident.
Momen Mahmoud depicts mythical figures in a comic-story style, with the words “The animal threw me away”.
Even artistic schools – abstraction, expressionism, surrealism – are in evidence, and sometimes unexpected elements are used: the leaves taken from the Aquarium gardens in Radwa Adel’s garden image, for example.
“As a professor of art,” El Guindy says, “I believe that classic drawing should be just a part of the curriculum. We need to teach art students how to preserve this preternatural spirit – how to draw like children.”
*A version of this article appears in print in the 12 September, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the title: Birds Sounds*