The curator chose specifically the underground hall of Saad Zaghloul Cultural Centre as a venue for the Futuropilis exhibition in order to introduce the space to other venues in Cairo’s art scene.
“Most of the artists in Egypt include the city in their works,” said Paul Geday, the curator of Futuropolis, “sometimes in a nostalgic sense or another, but we wanted to concentrate on the future because no one has a global view on the future.”
Each work has different reflections upon the future that awaits the city; there is the grim outlook on the future seen in Ahmed Noseir’s and Nermine el Ansary’s paintings, there is a more comic and child-like approach as seen in Alessandra Respini’s work and there are works that comment about the technological breakthroughs and the virtual reality we’re living in as seen in Paul Geday’s work.
In El Ansary’s large canvas ‘Black City’, mostly in blacks, greys with some hints of purple, large buildings take the whole space of the cityscape leaving individuals little room to wander or breathe. The individuals in the painting, all identical, are lost amid the tall buildings.
Ahmed Noseir also uses a large amount of blacks in his paintings. Fantastical creatures and ghastly-looking figures, not clearly defined, blend in with the background and emit a grim look, yet with Nosseir’s bright colored brushstrokes the painting become magical. His creatures look like those of mythology and fairy tales and their horrific demeanor resembles the figures in Egon Schiele’s paintings. Looking at those paintings one would immediately think of the word oxymoron for they are beautiful and bleak, hopeful and depressing.
The French artist Frederick Moullié’s work resembles a comic strip in style and color usage, where he places different detailed shots in rectangular frames. He portrays the urban environment through taking small details out of what resembles a construction site or bridge and blends those urban buildings with people and plants. Moullié visited Cairo and New York and believes that both of the cities resemble Bertold Brecht’s play Jungle of the Cities.
A dreamy and calm outer space was seen in Xavier Puigmarti’s paintings. He presented a view from a spaceship or in outer galaxies in bluish colors and next to his paintings it said “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” (G. Marx). Puigmarti works in Barcelona and Fayoum, a possible reason for the harmonious feeling that these paintings have.
In Paul Geday’s ‘Virtual city’, a Facebook photo gallery of images around Cairo is presented, through screen shots. This makes one ponder about the future of human relations on the Internet sphere, the virtual world and even the future of art with the advent of technology. “Would it work for it or against it?” is a question that these images trigger.
An installation by Tarek Maamoun comments on consumerism by placing identical white pieces that look like ceramics for home decoration with barcodes on them.
The exhibition also presents a panorama of photos along a bridge in Cairo by Heba Farid and large photographs of well-known areas in Cairo, where Tarek Hefny plays around with the dimensions of the buildings and makes them two-dimensional.
The exhibition is perceptive and presents a variety of artwork, from photographs, installations, collage, paintings and video.
Futuropolis will run until 30 December.
Saad Zaghloul Cultural Centre, 2 Saad Zaghloul street, Mounira