Arthropologie: An inspiring, new gallery

Sara Elkamel, Thursday 9 Jun 2011

A new player in the Cairo art scene, Arthropologie Contemporary Art Gallery, founded by young designers and art-lovers offers a full range of modern gallery delights


Cairo’s color-infused streets are encouraging artistic endeavors left and right. City lights mirrored by the Nile, bright orange flowers blooming for summer and  black and white taxis zooming by - it is a palette of unwavering inspiration. And so contemporary Egyptian art is flourishing, in the hardest and brightest of times.

Loudly hammering a nail into the white walls a mere hour before the gallery’s soft opening, Hazem Al Zaro, one of Arthropologie’s founders (along with Sara and Lina Abdallah), speaks to Ahram Online about the ambitious artistic initiative.

“We aim is to enrich the local cultural scene through dynamic art projects that satisfy a broad spectrum of art enthusiasts,” says Al Zaro. Arthropologie is the brainchild of a group of young architects, artists and designers with a passion for art in common. The gallery joins the vibrant Cairo art scene, with big dreams of “culturally enriching the Egyptian community.”

The gallery’s white walls and wooden floors entice visitors. The artwork is loosely assembled, not bound by a single theme. There is an uninhibited rawness about the place, eliciting easiness, or perhaps a lack of pressure.

Currently on display at Arthropologie is a diverse collection, reflective of the dynamic art scene in the city. Among many exhibiting artists we find a few paintings by Mohamed Abla who captures life along the Nile. Georges Bahgoury also makes his masterful mark on the gallery's walls. In bright oranges and scarlet, Bahgoury paints a couple of donkeys. Sketches by Al Zaim add shades of black and white to the collection, contrasting the explosions of color in Arthropologie. Isolde Kadry's orange sphere hangs over stacked homes in packed canvas of boldly-colored buildings.

Arthropologie gets its name from anthropology, the study of humankind and cultures. The gallery is structured by the belief that art reflects and prescribes culture. Arthropologie is therefore taking on the role of recording and creating the future heritage of Egypt. 

Like human cultures, the gallery is multi-faceted. Apart from visual art, Arthropologie is striving to build up an integrated arts community. There is a room dedicated to showcasing installations and short films. Anthropologie’s contribution to the cultural scene also includes the written word- poetry readings will be held to further enrich the cultural experience of art lovers in Cairo.

Further, the gallery steers away from the traditional format, where exhibitions are left on the walls for a fixed period of time. Arthropologie aims to keep a constant flow of artwork, updating exhibitions frequently to hold the attention of art lovers. “It’s a flexible arena where art is not labeled,” says Al Zaro.

Arthropologie is a neutral exhibiting landscape, allowing the artwork to sink in and speak for itself. Its white walls and black spotlights soak up the art. Branching out from the large central space are a few smaller rooms, also boasting pearly walls. Strolling from room to room; the journey in itself is stirring. Beware though, in that trance of color, not to miss the tiny staircase leading to the gallery’s extension, where photographs, handcrafts and jewelry are showcased.

Arthropologie reflects a recent transformation in the Egyptian cultural scene. “Before the revolution, art was simply colors on a wall,” Al Zaro explains. “But now- art is interactive.” The revolution extracted the artistic side of the public, Egyptian art was created in Tahrir square, and now it belongs to the masses.

Though it forced Arthropologie to postpone its opening more than once, the revolution is shaping its identity and setting foundations for its function in the local art scenes.

The gallery will showcase pioneer artists’ pieces along with up-and-coming artists, opening up the space for a wide variety of styles, where “good art” is the only criteria.

“We want to present truly modern art, and generate a place in the market for artists who compete internationally,” says Al Zaro.

Participation in the global art scene is part of Arthropologie’s long-term plan. Driven by a strong belief in the potential of Egyptian art, the gallery hopes to transport local creative abilities beyond its walls, step by step.

The official opening is set for October. Hopefully by then all nails will be in place and Arthropologie’s free, raw character will be intact.


Arthropologie Contemporary Art Gallery address: 13A Mohamed El Mara’ashly Street, Zamalek


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