The Mashrabia Gallery of Contemporary Art opens the new season with its first ever show by the young, self-taught artist Essam Alaa.
Entitled “A Man in all His States”, Alaa’s collection uses dream-like visions to tackle such themes as desire and death.
“In my search for a title for this project,” he says, “I asked myself many questions. I settled on the present phrase because a man has different feelings and states represented by experiences, and this diverse mixture combines experience, reality and dreams to create a world of feelings harmoniously coloured by the imagination. My job is to try, in every painting, to convey my state through the reality of life and imagination. I have to try to escape reality and cling to hope and bright, explosive colours, and search for different ways to achieve an inner freedom, as some paintings represent men like frozen machines, but within them are deep and volatile feelings.”
Aged 27, Alaa divides his time between his neighbourhood, Bulak Al-Dakrour, one of the largest and most densely populated in Cairo, and Maadi, where he has been painting for more than seven years.
The exhibition ends on 14 October.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 23 September, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly