From water to mosaics

Menna Taher, Saturday 27 Nov 2010

The Gezira Centre for Modern Art exhibits Mohamed Abla's Shagaret el Hayah (Tree of Life), featuring oil paintings, newspaper clippings and video installations, and Mohamed Banawy's mosaic works


Two exhibitions opened at The Gezira Centre for Modern Art on 21 November. The first, by Mohamed Abla, is titled Shagaret el Hayah (Tree of Life) and the other an exhibition of mosaics by Mohamed Banawy.

Abla’s exhibition aims to raise awareness about water issues and the threat of its scarcity. It featured oil paintings and newspaper clippings related to these concerns. The display also presented  video and art installations, such as a dead cut-out tree, plastic bags filled with different types of water, pure and contaminated, and animal figures on tree twigs hung on the walls.

“I made sure that animals such as giraffes and elephants face the door, which symbolizes their leaving, and the wild animals face the other way to denote their arrival,” said Abla, “I also decided to add installations in this exhibition, which I rarely do, in order to turn people’s attention to the subject of water.”

The two video art installations portrayed the contamination and destruction of nature; one was of empty cans flowing on the greenish water of the Nile and the other of a man cutting down a tree.

Much of Abla’s art is related to nature and people’s relation to the Nile. He himself is very attached to the Nile; his old atelier was on an island on the river. Now he is currently using an apartment downtown as his studio to prepare for his next show, which will feature the tasteless architectural constructions of Cairo, opening on 12 December at the Zamalek Art Gallery.

Banawy's mosaic exhibition is both experimental and innovative. He uses several materials that are not usually used in mosaic art and plays around with texture and levels.

“The mosaic tile is scarce in Egypt because it’s imported,” says Banawy, “So a lot of the time I didn’t find the colors I was looking for. That’s why I went on the lookout for new materials.” Banawy uses clay, ceramics, mica stone and beads.

“I learned how to put these materials together through a great deal of experimentation,” he says.

Banawy's exhibition was divided into different sections, each presenting the compositions of a different phase. The works made with mica stone were abstract and grey and beige in color.

“These are the colors of Egypt, and  resemble the buildings in Cairo,” Banawy says.

Another section featured works made of clay and ceramics, mostly abstract in shape, and decorated with colorful mosaic tiles. Portraits of women at the back of the exhibition were also made of ceramics or clay, as well as cement and glass beads.


Both exhibitions will run until 4 December.


Gezira Centre for Modern Art 

1 Al-Sheikh Marsafy St.

Sat-Thu 9 AM-1 PM

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