We asked three Cairo galleries to share their favorite picks of the exhibits they curated in 2016.
selections from Al Masar Gallery, Art Talks Gallery and Gallery Misr, compiled by Noha Mohammed
1. Salah Enany, Resurrection, at Al Masar Gallery
“Why do I paint, sculpt and exhibit my works afterwards? I always find the answer to that is simply a resurrection of my being, just like the old Egyptian artists,” says Salah Enany. This year his exhibit Resurrection showcased the evolution of his impressionistic works. Enany deliberately maintained their vivid colors and forms “to allow the soul to perfectly return to a lively symbol of the past pharaohs . . . we all need a new resurrection of mind and soul, reforming our inner selves.”
2. Kareem Al Qurity, Passing Faces, at Al Masar Gallery
This artist is inspired by the faces of people in his daily life and their expressions on the street. Al Qurity has a way of manipulating expression, composition and body language, skillfully giving a voice to the silent faces in his paintings.
3. Essam Darwish, Vitality II, at Al Masar Gallery
Darwish is a promising name in the sculpture world, shooting to fame with his busts of author Taha Hussein and Egyptian footballer Saleh Selim. At the Aswan International Sculpture Symposium, Darwish presented several works made of harsh materials used boldly and creatively.
4. Bahaa Amer and Adam Henein, The Sweetest Haven, at Art Talks Gallery
Bahaa Amer focuses on youth in today’s shifting sociopolitical climate. He builds on his extensive knowledge of the fundamental myths and beliefs of his past ancestors to recount present-day problems. Migration, romance, livelihood and the afterlife feature as elements of hope and challenges. Adam Henein – Arab world’s most celebrated and influential living sculptor – returned to painting this year with new works fresh out of his studio in Harraniyya. This time he explores the use of egg-based tempera, a painting technique found in early Egyptian sarcophagi decorations and many of the Fayoum mummy portraits, the latter dating as far as the first centuries AD.
5. Guirguis Lotfy, Renee. Nothing Else Matters, at Art Talks Gallery
Lotfy produces stunning depictions of contemporary daily Egyptian life using long forgotten elaborate and rich painting techniques, such as egg tempera, and ensures the transmission of this unique art to future generations. Lotfy masters this elaborate method to depict two-dimensional set of local characters and iconography.
6. Yasser Rostom, Doves and Crows, at Art Talks Gallery
This surrealist artist is dubbed the ‘Arab Dali.’ His repertoire tackles a variety of issues, from gender and love to the more controversial topics of sexuality and politics.
7. Sayed Saad el Din, Circles in the Sand, at Art Talks Gallery
In pursuit of his passion for art he left Minya at the age of 17 and headed alone to Cairo. He received scholarship grants, numerous local and international awards, public commissioning and residencies abroad.
8. Moataz Nasr, Untitled, at Art Talks Gallery
Nasr is one of the most significant multimedia artists of his generation. He employs painting, sculpture, and photography, video and public art in order to create installations, which connect past and present.
9. Hossam Dirar, Invitation Au Voyage, at Art Talks Gallery
Dirar is a multidisciplinary artist working across painting, photography, installation, video and graphics. His works are conceived as a reinterpretation of Egypt’s rich visual heritage, overlapping between the multicultural character of Cairo, the city’s complex and ever expanding urban façade, the region’s traditional iconography and the influence of contemporary media in shaping cultural referents.
10. Adam Abd ElGhaffar, Affiche Plaisir, at Gallery Misr
In 2015, Affiche Plaisir toured the Middle East with exhibitions in Cairo, Tunisia and Beirut. This year, Abd ElGhaffar revisited film posters from all three countries resulting in a collection of 45 Egyptian, Tunisian and Lebanese films. His posters can be described as minimalist and experimental, despite great diversity in styles.
11. Hanafy Mahmoud, Illusion, at Gallery Misr
This visual artist is powerfully in tune with his surroundings and closely observes humanity’s sensual and psychological dimensions. His paintings consist of life-size figures or groups of men and women, often nude, set against dreamlike backgrounds.
12. Shaima Sobhy, Nymphomani, at Gallery Misr
Her works engage with the tensions and hypocrisies that underpin gender in Egyptian society. Shaima has participated in various collective exhibitions in Cairo, Alexandria and Luxor in Egypt and internationally.
13. Gamal El Kheshen, End of Season, at Gallery Misr
“The end of a new season is drawing near, and here I am standing on its sharp edge, stepping into a new one with a shivering soul, moving from a state to another, feeling the agony of human transformation,” writes Gamal Elkheshen about his exhibit.