Flowers, Flourishing Stories

Nagwa El-Ashri , Tuesday 26 Jan 2021

Faten Hammama by Fared Fadel
Faten Hammama by Fared Fadel

“Flowers, Flourishing Stories” is the latest collection of oil and pastel paintings by artist Farid Fadel currently on display at the Picasso gallery’s Venue I. 

This exhibition is an open invitation to ponder the healing qualities of beauty exemplified by flowers. 

To Fadel this exhibition is a landmark as it commemorates the 50th anniversary of his artistic career. “I can’t believe that 50 years have passed since my first one-man show in 1971”, he says.

“The Arabic title, ‘Watch Flowers and Learn’, is taken from an old and famous song sung by Umm Kolthoum. I personally find it easy to look at flowers and enjoy their amazing shapes and colours, not to mention the soothing aromas they spread everywhere. This past year however offered me the opportunity to discover new dimensions in the vast impact flowers of all kinds have had on me over the years.

“In the midst of lockdown, quarantines and social distancing, one had to find peace of mind somewhere. I started to buy carefully selected bunches from a local florist in Giza who opens his doors at 6:30 am, very conveniently for an early bird like me. I would spend all day painting what spoke to me at first glance, paying special attention to the foliage and light reflections on vases. In due course a local garden by the Nile began to catch my attention. There, I found a new space of ecstasy. I would sit and sketch boats, palm trees, plants and birds, even the occasional fishing boat passing by. 

“My love affair with flowers goes back a long time. I used to enjoy painting roses in the 1980s and 1990s which culminated in an exhibition entitled ‘Last Flowers of the Century’. I drew inspiration from the last small format paintings of Edward Manet. Nevertheless, it is another French artist that inspired me this time. It is Claude Monet. My visit to Monet's garden in Giverny in October 2019 gave me fresh momentum. The fact that Monet spent the last 25 years of his life painting his garden is mind boggling...”   

The exhibition runs until 10 February


*A version of this article appears in print in the 28 January , 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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