A book and a painting
Ahmed El Shaer
Games during the 70’s and 80’s were programmed using 8-bit technology with the dawn of Atari in the United States. This technique creates characters and game play elements with limited colors and a limited number of pixels resulting in a distinct simplified monolith form.
Being from the Middle East I wanted to share my personal experience of the world around me and my own exposure to Atari employing this 8-bit technology within a region that had not participated in the 8-bit Western phenomenon.
(Ahmed El Shaer, September 2012)
Ahmed El Shaer is a multi-disciplinary artist (installation, photography, sound, video) with a particular interest in digital technologies.
He is co-founder of CAIRO DOCUMENTA, an independent art event, and he started to establish TOLON STUDIO FOR CONTEMPORARY ART, a non-profit organization devoted to contemporary art.
Since 2005 his work has been on display in numerous exhibitions and festivals in Egypt and abroad. 8-bit Portraits is his first solo exhibition at Mashrabia gallery.
Oct. 7 – Nov. 8, 2012
"As an observer, the artist is closest to society, and is most influenced by it" - Hany Rashed
After the January events of 2011, Hany staged a demolition of a number of his pre-revolution artworks that he believed had been the result of an inescapable hesitance characterized by his past fears and censored ideas, gathering strength to proceed to a more driven and sincere future to his work, and to provide a model for the public to begin a new rejuvenated page, free from a bullying shadow.
As an observer and participant of the protests Hany had internalized vivid memories. As vivid as his personal memories, so were the works he envisioned.
His visual language develops into simple narratives using streams of small, confused, repetitive white faced figures back dropped against blank backgrounds and a protagonist, usually a villain, submerged in a thin white haze covering the piece as did noxious tear gas.
Within the unfolding months after the revolution he sought to represent the events taking place in the country, such as backdoor deals, frantic supporters of presidential nominees and the many nights that recorded casualties, through painting. These pieces build on the previous surge and are noticeably more chaotic, with bolder brushstrokes and excitable composition.
In the final stage of this post revolution chronicle, Hany Rashed's famed blank white face, an attribute he adds for its ambiguity, turns into amusing and comedic expressions popularized by millions of users on the internet that has saw great participation by Egyptians.
The youth who had had the drive and passion to roar in the streets, and who with the passing time turned docile had removed themselves from the live events and instead turned towards sarcasm, expressing through images a hope that has gathered dust, and all the governmental failings the only way they can in the residue of the revolution. Pouring in daily, these are always humorous and often political, giving the masses a way to express themselves.
As Hany sees it, this new visual medium has trumped traditional painting in its accessibility and availability. This phenomenon of online comic strips and Photoshop creations is unique in the sense that it has developed a standardized catalogue of visual tools such as recurring themes and sayings, the same way folklore would; this is due to the wide circulation it has garnered. The general standard uses captions, blank surfaces and interchangeable face expressions to compile an idea. Hany has fused his art within this phenomenon, as he means to firstly highlight its significance and secondly to use the language the general audience immediately recalls.
This exhibition sees Hany Rashed as an artist in freedom, a visual autobiographer, and marks the transformation of the Tahrir protester into the online protester as one of the sarcastic yet hopeful masses.
Nov. 11 – Dec. 13, 2012
Hisham El Zeiny
The plane is considered a vehicle of transportation from a place to another.
Metaphorically speaken, a transition from one life situation to the next .
In this exhibition I examine the imaginary scenario of an urgent trip undertaken by our national aviation, in which Egypt Air announces its unscheduled emergency Flight no. jan 25 heroically attempting to head for democracy.. or better still "demo-crazy".
Crossing heavy weather fronts, clouds pregnant with tear gas, volcanic eruptions of anger on the ground, buildings torched and obfuscating orientation, bullets cutting the sky echoing state terror, a revolution licking it's wounds and driven by a unique surge in a proud attempt to restore national pride and freedom.
Due to the breakdown of navigation systems, and the total lack of vision, no further instructions can be given during this flight. Consequently because of the uniqueness of this venture, which relies on a risky autopilot, nightmarish images of the revolution manifest in front of the passenger's inner eye evoking fields of colors ranging from dusty mudbrowns over shady and heavy greys, shocked whites as lightning, sudden splashes of red eaten by thick oily petrol blue, all immersed in sharp toxic lucidity, giving way to rhythmic waves of the reds whites and blacks of our national flag...
For now the image remains blurred, things weathered.. a ruinous state, closer to standstill due to revolutionary fatigue and lack of fantasy in a so called orthodox establishment.
And yet, the mind keeps on spinning, inner images, "counterimages" of hope, an unfinished canvas, and as it is still in the making... it has no title yet.
The works on display highlight and reflect stages of this historical voyage, its takeoff which was mostly successful… and its landing remaining a mystery.
Dec. 16, 2012 – Jan. 17, 2013
Happy New Year to all!
We mark the beginning of the year 2013 with "Alia's Drinks", the 1st solo exhibition of the young Egyptian artist Ramy Dozy at Mashrabia Gallery of Contemporary Art.
The pieces are the product of the artist's vivid encounters into Ard El Lewa where he stayed for six months.
Dozy explains: "The Alia project moves away from the rational mind in an attempt to search and explore a world specific and unique to "Alia". This virtual construction is a result of merging the real world with the theoretical world, expanding into visual and mental phenomena, producing a distinct visual language for Alia." The works are a result of Ramy’s immersion into Ard El Lewa, a world to him that was fascinating and novel. A popular area located in Cairo, he noticed the natives spoke differently from him and thought differently than he, even walked differently. All his associations of this place became symbolized by a young girl he had glanced at, understanding that he had physically and mentally left his world and brought into her own universe. The pieces are not a direct illustration of Ard El Lewa, but are a dialogue of the internal and familiar with the external and unfamiliar.
Jan. 20 – Feb. 14, 2013
Clouds for Sale
The current crisis model and its consequences in the artistic field require new thinking strategies and approaches. Some of the most evocative are emerging around social networks, real fields of social and cultural activism. Xavier Puigmartí is an "artist of facebook". Tired of working in his studio painting and drawing, but with little chance to show his work, he decided to use this space as a virtual gallery, an imaginary museum for passing his works, landscapes with a beauty and plasticity almost magical, cloudy skies where sometimes appears Cosmic, the character that he created, irreverent and cheeky, and through which he expresses himself. Cosmic, like his creator, lives between Barcelona and Egypt and he likes to share adventures with all his friends of Facebook, an aesthetic and political journey, through which he has created a virtual artistic community. However, the high visibility of the network is in contrast with his limited economic possibilities. A worry that Cosmic transferred to his friends, upset that no one take this problem seriously. So "if there is no money" he declared with his usual impertinence "we have to sell clouds"! The idea came seeing the show windows of Cairo shops, where he discovered in their crystals clouds painted with a very special color: Spanish white. The images of these clouds that resembled those of his paintings inspired him to create a "clouds store".
Feb. 17 – Mar. 14, 2013
On My Forest Land
Hala Abu Shady
"On my forest land" is a complex project in which I am dealing with heritage and social issues deep-rooted in the different societies of the Mediterranean basin as the understanding of religion, homeland, shame and forbidden things, gender, reality and what is behind it.
Further the immense changes and on goings we pass through and the mixed cultural items resulting from it in a fast moving world.
Symbols, pictures and accents of the Egyptian society inspired me, in addition to what I myself heard and saw during the last two years. I used photographs of myself, photos of friends and friends of friends, as well as pictures from Facebook, Twitter and some more specific Middle Eastern media.
Mixing photomontage and sound art in a potentially subversive way, this exhibition aims to show many levels of the so-called "alternative reality".
(Hala Abu Shady, February 2013)
Mar. 17 – Apr. 12, 2013
This exhibition is dedicated exclusively to the survival of an icon who touched the souls of generations of Egyptians and who has lost none of her lustre with the passage of time: Omm Kolthoum. Bahgory has been working for years on the perfect portrait of Omm Kolthoum. So it is not surprising that we find her again and again at the heart of his exhibitions, a central figure, alone or in the middle of the orchestra, with her beloved, indispensable musicians supporting and enveloping her, blending with her clothes, melting into her skin. But in most paintings the singer is alone, and her solitary presence invades the surface of the canvas, releasing an energy that seems to want to break out of its physical confines. Regardless of our judgement - extremely subjective after all - on the painter’s success in capturing his favourite model, what remains, to our delight, is the wonderful display of all the steps he took to get there.
Apr. 14 – May 5, 2013
Journey Around My Living Room
Hala El Koussy
This project by Hala Elkoussy borrows its title from the book "Journey Around My Bedroom" by Xavier De Maistre in which the author undertakes a journey of two weeks in his own bedroom proceeds to describe it as if he has never seen it before.
In the spring and summer of 2012, Elkoussy went back to her beginnings as a street photographer. She photographed everyday in her neighbourhood of Downtown Cairo; her interest being in the mundane, the banal, the here and now with its wealth of small traces and the gaps that don't offer unilateral meaning. The resulting installation on offer in this exhibition offers visual indices for the larger context, a detailed portrait of a city in waiting.
May 9 – Jun. 4, 2013
The Rhino story
If the world is divided between the totalitarian attack of progressive ideas and the defensive reactionism of traditional ideas, then enlightenment would lie in the creation of absurdity itself. (Mohamed Abdelkarim)
An exhibition&a book launch:
The Rhino story was written by Mohamed Abdelkarim during his study in Beirut/Lebanon in 2011.
He is now working on publishing a book that would include this story along with other narratives in addition to some painted pictures. This book will be presented during the exhibition.
“A hexagonal box, a blue wig and a spiral medal,the rhino is trying to keep that heritage from tampering, while the people are eagerly awaiting rhino appearance, but can they recognize the expected one.”
The anecdotal texts or narratives are the main pillars on which Ahmed Sabrydecided to create this narrative collection of "The Rhino Story" as a kind of visual narratives with symbolic logic. The visual narrative structure may surpass the limits of the written scene, so the story doesn't necessarily mean the literal given meaning whether on the surface level or the symbolic level, hence, it can be said that the hermeneutical construction of the text is completed and fully delivered.
Jun. 9 – Jul. 4, 2013