Egypt: Our Home - An Artistic Celebration of Freedom and Liberty

Sara Elkamel, Saturday 30 Apr 2011

Egypt: Our Home, a collective exhibition glorifying the country and its people’s revolution, in an assortment of styles, opened this week at the Ebdaa Art Gallery in Zamalek

Egypt: Our Home

Giving a free rein to pride and creative freedom, a group of Egyptian artists are participating in an exhibition that is unified in theme, yet diverse in execution. An undercurrent of patriotism pertains throughout, with styles shifting refreshingly. Paint is splattered at times, carefully applied at others, occasionally diluted, sometimes thick and textured; this collection attests to the versatility of the local contemporary art scene.

Mohamed Demrawy exhibits an overpowering trilogy that takes up an entire wall.   It is a simulated snapshot of the revolution. Bearing an x-ray-like quality, the painting is dominated by a murky blue with dark, animated figures filling the canvas.  Bright orange contours draw attention to a man praying, another chanting, someone seemingly dancing, with many more caught up in the action. Across a stretch of the bright, blue Nile is a landscape of the city. The pyramids, a few mosques, and dense buildings are highlighted with unruly green contours.

The painting is completely original in its depiction of a battlefield of persistence and hope. In the twilight, the spirit of these believers in freedom crosses the threshold of the large canvas, only to reside within you.

Celebration of liberty

In bright, playful colours, Bahaa El-Din Amer  has created an abstract playground of optimism. The thick strokes of undulating paint elude you, and for a moment you are lost in the free, unbound shapes. But then you spot a recurring combination of red, white, and black, and a few figures emerge from the sea of colour.   And you revel in this multi-hued celebration of liberty. 

In contrast, Tarek El-Komy has produced a far more contained expression of patriotism.  Sizeable bronze-coloured sculptures flaunt their graceful curves.  A closer look elicits a smile of recognition; it is the eagle from the Egyptian flag that stands in the spotlight, proud and majestic.

Mohamed Abla has painted a frantic crowd with a piece bedecked with an excess of dots and spontaneous brushstrokes. Abla has the unique ability to give each dot a character; what might have been mere drips of paint becomes a person, one among many. The Egyptian flag is discernible and through the frenzied smudges and trickles of paint, you can almost see people jumping up and down, victoriously waving their arms in the air.

Graceful and charming

Mohamed El-Tarawy ‘s work reveals a dream-like depiction of the uprising. Floating above a sea of blue cubes and gently diced red, white and black flags are two white figures, graceful and charming. The surreal painting is in the style of Marc Chagall, a 20th century French artist who explored cubism and surrealism. Many of Chagall’s paintings contain a deep blue colour, and he often painted ghostly figures hovering above the earth and into the sky.  Such paintings have been regarded as visions, and have deeply influenced surrealism.

Alaa Abo El-Hamd transports you to the inside of an ancient Egyptian tomb. Two large canvases are inhabited by enigmatic figures with jet black eyes. The artist skillfully manipulates paint, contrasting the ethereal faces with patterned backgrounds. We are left with hauntingly beautiful faces, neatly packed into two, long, adjacent canvases, telling stories of a very old Egypt.

Khaled El-Samahi has painted a portrait of the heart of the revolution; a fallen demonstrator, a man chanting with undying fervour, posters demanding freedom, and men and women waving flags.  With dramatic shades and subtle colour, El-Samahi has created a heartrending scene.

Like the multifaceted revolution, the collection reveals a range of angles, outlooks, and styles.

Egypt: Our Home will be showcased at the Ebdaa Art Gallery at 23B Ismail Mohammed, Zamalek.  Open daily from 10 am to 10 pm except Fridays   until May 23.



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