The World according to 1957

With half a century of life experiences expressed though artistic activities, three artists born in 1957 met together at the Khan Al Maghraby gallery in Zamalek, to tell us about their vision.

Published on Wednesday 3 Nov 2010 in Ahram Online

With half a century of life experiences expressed though artistic activities, three artists born in 1957 meet together at the Khan Al Maghraby gallery in Zamalek, to tell us about their vision.

On 31 October, the Khan Al Maghraby gallery in Zamalek inaugurated its new exhibition entitled “Three Contemporary Visions.” The exhibition collected paintings and sculptures by three renowned Egyptian contemporary artists, Omar El Fayoumi, Sherif Abdel Badie, and Assem Sharaf.   All three artists were born in 1957, and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in 1981.  Bearing this in mind, the “Three Contemporary Visions” exhibition presents work taken from three parallel paths, artists, who throughout their lives, developed an artistic vision, each independent, yet all three of them linked to similar social stimuli.

All three artists have a series of group and individual exhibitions on their own account. Galleries such as El Mashrabia, Atelier du Caire (Cairo Atelier), Espace Karim Francis, Palace of Arts, Akhnaton, El Sawy Culturewheel, Noun and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina gallery are among many other places which have presented works by El Fayoumi, Abdel Badie and Sharaf, more than once.  In addition to local exposure, the artists have exhibited internationally:  El Fayoumy at the Academy of Fine Arts in Leningrad, Assem Sharaf in Switzerland, the UK, Austria, and Taiwan, and Taichung (Taiwan), and Abdel Badie has exhibited in France and South Korea.

El Fayoumi uses simple vocabulary to express his much personalised approach to the world around him. His representations of nude figures are suspended in time, have no weight, as if disconnected from reality, yet definitely responding  with the choice of the exhibition theme. A beautiful emphasis on body curves and a sense of movement blend together in his simple brush strokes and highly esthetic impressions.  It is possible we are invited to the same emotional experience as early Matisse viewers except that El Fayoumi reflects on a different – and possibly very contradictory – cultural reality.  His canvases, with seemingly unintentionally-floating and dancing female figures and witty sculptures, evoke a sense of absurdity which, paradoxically, actually perfectly reflects current social realities.

While El Fayoumi seems persistently optimistic, the world of Sherif Abdel Badie is more complex. It bends under apparently chaotic and heavy shapes in dark strokes where humans meet birds. But chaos is possibly resulting from confusion, and an artist who searches for hope.

El Fayoumi remains positive while Abdel Badie seems to have lost hope; but Assem Sharaf regulates his emotions. His representations of human figures and relations between them seem planned and organised. The brighter colours express balanced figures and stress more of a relationship between them. As much as Sharaf contradicts his colleagues’ dispersed emotions, he also complements them, closing in this way a complete circle of a vision that the three artists create together.

A small room in the Khan Al Maghraby gallery in Zamalek offers an artistic and human inspiration. As such the exhibition, “Three Contemporary Visions” is not to be missed. The exhibition will continue until 11 November.

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