Arthropologie Gallery celebrates Ramadan

Sara Elkamel, Tuesday 23 Aug 2011

The young Arthropologie gallery in Zamalek launches a new collective exhibition in its arty space, adding a dash of color to Ramadan’s festive cultural agenda in Cairo

Miriam Hathour

A group of rising artists and designers have launched Al-Wekala (the market place) inside the gallery. In celebration of Ramadan, inspired artists have turned the downstairs rooms of Artropologie into a modern take on Al-Wekala, which is completed with a Qahwa where you can sip on a cup of tea or coffee. On sale is an assortment of handmade crafts, jewellery and t-shirts, alongside some Ramadan goods. The gallery’s black-room holds a themed installation, where the Tannoura dancers draw you deeper into the Ramadan world.

While Arthropologie’s opening exhibition featured artwork by contemporary pioneers including Mohamed Abla and George Bahgoury, this collection presents mostly young artists with various styles, bearing influences of veteran artists, with a fresh twist.

The assortment is infused with a refreshingly youthful vibe. Bright paint jumps off the canvas, words are doodled amid pools of colour, and mythical characters cover the walls. The gallery’s interestingly rough interior plays host to a range of vibrant and expressive art.

Three canvases hang on the wall, housing creatures that stare at you with large eyes. Sherine Abdel Gawad applies washes of colour to intriguing compositions, where girls with eerily large eyes (reminiscent of contemporary artist Zeinab El-Sageny’s artwork) play with birds and camels. The characters have a mythical quality about them, and suddenly you feel that you have stumbled upon a children’s book, and these are merely its illustrations.

Miriam Hathour empties tubes of paint on three canvases, creating a trilogy of paintings about Tahrir Square, or so it seems. Bright colours bulge out of the purposely-tilted canvas, as dots and dashes fill up the composition similar to modern artist Mohamed Abla’s work. The canvases exude a certain playfulness, as the textured strokes of bright red, green, yellow and blue awaken the child within you. But the landscape is void of people, making it slightly impersonal.

Sherine Moustafa showcases interesting paintings packed with symbolism. People float around on canvas, amid child-like doodles and splashes of colour. You can make out the word ‘freedom’, mathematical symbols, and plenty of cats. The composition seems to be in motion. Moustafa’s artwork is intriguing if not necessarily aesthetic. One gets lost in a trance, trying to figure out what exactly the cat is doing in the painting.

Ahmed Kamal creates a wonderfully emotive ink drawing. A man is boxed in, thick strokes of black ink surrounding him, with a tear below his eye. The piece is extremely expressive; it infects you for a second or two, with its melancholia. It brings to mind pioneer Yousef Sida’s ink work.

The Ramadan collection at Arthropologie also bears some appropriately festive pieces. Samia Kamal showcases Tannoura dancers, a photo printed on canvas reveals joyous onlookers, and paint highlights the twirling skirt, the star of the show. Though short on paint, the piece is serene. Isolde Kadry also displays a couple of cheerful paintings, packed with traditional Cairene buildings, carefree children, and vivid colour.

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