Red Sea resort lit up by art

In the midst of tourist attractions and commercial outlets, Safarkhan Gallery provides a breeze of real art to the shores of El Gouna

Published on Tuesday 26 Jul 2011 in Ahram Online

The Red Sea resort of El Gouna is a popular getaway for many Egyptians and one of the holiday destinations for international tourists. The resort is developed and owned by the Orascom for Hotels and Development headed by Egyptian business tycoon Samih Sawiris.

With an overwhelming number of tourist attractions and so-called art galleries, which are in fact commercial outlets offering a variety of souvenirs and decorative items, one might not expect to find serious art. A short walk at Abou Tig Marina reveals Safarkhan Art Gallery overlooking a sunny bay.

Safarkhan Art Gallery is well known in the Cairene art scene. Located in the Cairo neighbourhood of Zamalek and founded in the 1980s, Safarkhan is one of the first privately owned art galleries. Safarkhan aims to be one of the leading platforms showcasing Egypt’s prominent artists. In 2002 Sherwet Shafei, the gallery owner, decided to expand and carry her mission to El Gouna where Egyptian artwork can be presented to a high traffic of international visitors.

Cairo Safarkhan holds many solo exhibitions or thematic collective exhibitions. This, however, is not necessarily linked to El Gouna’s branch where art works are being added and rotate depending on viewers interests and the gallery’s choice.

Currently “To Egypt with Love II” is on display at Safarkhan Cairo. Since the exhibition tackles very important thematic element – January 25 Revolution – Safarkhan El Gouna set their “revolution corner.” Multimedia works and photography by Hossam Hassan and Bassem Samir capture scenes from the revolutionary days in a number of artistic propositions.

In parallel to works triggered by the revolution, paintings of other artists are on the display in the main room of Safarkhan el Gouna. Hannan Stevenson’s oils recapture vibrant Alexandrian city shores while Souad Mardam Bey’s big representations of Nubian figures, oil on canvas, are among the artist’s best known hallmarks.

Also on display we find works by Ashraf El-Zamzami, Katherine Bakhoum Tisné and, from the younger generation, Marwa Adel, among other artists.

Safarkhan Art Gallery, located in El Gouna, is one of the rare and important cultural additions to an otherwise touristic atmosphere. It is also a lovely and inspiring escape from the commercial outlets surrounding it. With the summer heat, it is in the evenings that the gallery gains the biggest interest.

Works on display are being changed regularily. The gallery is open all week long with flexible hours in the morning and open doors always between 6 and 9.30pm.

El Gouna, Abou Tig Marina. (El Gouna tel extension number: 77934)

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