Taboos and the city in 7th edition of My Favorite Things at Cairo's Mashrabia Gallery

Névine Lameï, Friday 10 Feb 2023

Once again, young female artists are in the spotlight at the ongoing seventh edition of My Favorite Things, an exhibition organised by Mashrabia Gallery of Contemporary Art.

My Favorite Thing


During this edition, female artists are tackling taboos and dogmas while seeking to free themselves from the established order. 

In My Favorite Things, each artist tries to restore the world according to her own perspective. Some move away from reality, others revise that reality.

“We seek to free ourselves from all prejudices and to make room for the feelings, memories and questions that torture women’s minds. The result is fascinating. I am delighted with the audacity and creativity of the participants, many of whom did not hesitate to take risks,” says Stefania Angarano, the owner and manager of the Mashrabia Gallery of Contemporary Art.

With her watercolors Nourhan Khorshed paints naked bodies, intense and beautiful. With their bizarre postures, the bodies claim a place in the world or express their support for a particular cause. 

The naked bodies also characterise subjects of Aya El-Husseini's abstract photographs. It is her way of expressing revolt, of deciphering the mystery of this mass of flesh, in a kaleidoscopic form.

In her turn, Doaa Amin uses tracing paper to replace the faces of her female protagonists; they are covered with images of Mickey Mouse. Yet, the iconic Disney character is stripped of detail, protected by Quranic verses and sunglasses: just enough to create a very childish and playful iconographic universe.

The small drawings of Fadwa Ramadan deal with questions of identity, using letters and scriptures. 

The letters return also in 11 small format paintings by Rowaida Baher, who presents illegible writings in green, red, black and white colors, as well as a heap of abstract objects, signs and indecipherable symbols. All of them have something very Egyptian, and a cosmos saturated with twinkling stars, where everything seems in harmony.

The Golden Fly is the title of three paintings by Eman Hussein, made with Eco Print, a vegetable printing technique on fabric and paper. The artist produces organic forms of extreme finesse and golden wings with an abstract look. The whole work is placed under the sign of protection, determination and freedom, following the example of the goddesses of ancient Egypt, Hathor and Sekhmet. 

Aya Gamil paints the same woman repeatedly, commenting that “I affirm myself through this woman; it is me, duplicated under the effect of water.”

Melanie Partamian picks objects from her grandmother's drawers to decorate her installation titled “Tree of Life.” She uses old papers and family portraits, objects that take us from the past to the present, and vice versa, in a very poetic and emotional way.

The city on canvas

Amani Moussa's fairly fine drawings show an imaginary city made up of small red and black tiles, maps and plans that constantly provide us with information about places and life in this city. 

Even more abstract, the large paintings of Mona Hamdy take up the idea of the phantasmagorical city, this time all in color. You cannot see anything, neither the houses nor the inhabitants. The whole image plunges into artistic blur. 

Yasmine Shash presents black and white graphics. Using engravings on zinc and wood, the artist is trying to break down a chaotic city, where everything is hatched. 

Close to theatrical performances, the black and white photos of Marwa Sakr present several creatures which communicate with one another – rooster, deer, fish – in a magnificent play of shadows and lights. 

Rowan Hamdi's photo-collages are melancholy with bizarre beings lying on their beds missing parts of their limbs. There is, however, something warm about these somewhat disturbing scenes.

Esraa Atef's paintings are more like posters, filled with cones and scoops of ice cream. There is also a horn and a traffic cone. It is about pop art, not without irony, making fun of the cement cities where we live and which do not stop extending their tentacles.

My Favorite Things 7 continues at the Mashrabia Gallery of Contemporary Art, 15 Mahmoud Bassiouni Street, Downtown Cairo, until 15 February.

The gallery is open daily from 11am to 8pm (Except Fridays) from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (except Fridays). 

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