For the show, Mashrabia Gallery brings together new and old works by eight pioneering artists living and working in Egypt. The title It Takes a Fool to Remain Sane echoes the surreal aesthetic dimension the artists have entered - either consciously or not, in order to explore and tackle a broad spectrum of various social and political issues peculiar of our era.
Aiming to put recent cultural production in a wider perspective, the exhibition offers a panorama on how the artists have transformed and expressed through the contemporary visual language current concerns such as the political events and their aftermaths, the struggle for gender equality and equity, the decline of urban culture and the influence played by media platforms and broadcasting companies.
The exhibition alternates paintings, installations and sculptures realised using different materials ranging from the traditional canvas and bronze to disused cardboard, stretched plastic, juxtaposed fabrics and photography and Photoshop collages.
Resulting from the interchange between Mashrabia Gallery and the Swiss Office for International Cooperation, the show celebrates not only the 25-years long pioneering mission of Mashrabia Gallery, but also the support and promotion of young local talents by the Embassy of Switzerland.
Ali Abd Elmohsen
A self-taught artist, Ali Abdel Mohsen uses line drawings and acrylic colour mixed with dirt and cigarette ashes on the surfaces of cardboard boxes to convey his impressions of decline in contemporary Egypt: on the political, social and human level. The choice of this medium conveys the primitive aesthetics of his message, as well as a reflection of the repressive and inescapable outcome of mass consumerism.
Egyptian sculptor Ahmed Askalany works with a range of materials that include polyester and bronze but also palm leaves, fibre and rubber. His sculptures are inspired by Egyptian folklore and tradition but the artist reframes this heritage by using materials and techniques associated with traditional Egyptian crafts while creating contemporary artworks.
The body of work by Ramy Dozy featured in the exhibition is the result of his residency in the popular area of Ard El Lewa. Being a reference to local tales and experiences, the work virtually symbolizes an everyday life that the artist felt different from the one he was used to.
Shayma Kamel believes in the active role of the artist within his/her community and the society. Her work, deeply informed by 2011 Revolution and its aftermaths, revolves around political issues of gender and femininity within the contradictory Egyptian society. It mainly takes the form of a mixed collage that is comic but also critical and sarcastic at the same time.
The Italian artist and writer Qarm Qart has been living in Egypt for the past 15 years. Using mixed media collage, he invites the audience to think through provoking juxtaposition between reality and fantasy. The result is a kaleidoscopic and humorous picture yet dealing with everyday social issues and experiences.
Hany Rashed’s multifaceted practice resembles the aesthetic and visual approach of Pop Art. Widely influenced by social media and TV in the era of globalization, Rashed reflects on people and society through a playful yet caustic sarcasm. Throughout his long career, Rashed has been extensively experimenting with the infinite possibilities to transform photography into other mediums such as painting and installation.
Much concerned with TV production and broadcasting, painter Ahmed Sabry has been lengthily working on the relation and the effects of mass media on its audience, often focusing on the mismatch between reality and the mediated information.