Ubuntu Gallery is proud to participate in CONTEXT Art Miami 2017 with a group presentation by fourteen Egyptian and Sudanese artists titled Masri-pli-Cities. The presentation’s title serves as a double entendre. Coined with the word “Masri” which means Egyptian in Arabic, and the “multiplicities” of artistic practices by artists originating from or working in different Egyptian cities, Ubuntu aims to present visitors with a wide overview of contemporary art in Egypt today. Works to be exhibited include paintings, sculptures, ceramics and works on paper.
All the works contain several common themes and artistic motivations. As political and social boundaries are being redefined in Egypt, so too is the understanding of contemporary art and what it can do to foster the expression of individuality in Egypt. A rejection of a singular artistic aesthetic focused on depictions of traditional folkloric tableaus of Egypt, once so prevalent, has been replaced by a myriad of painterly and sculptural expressions that aim to articulate varying observations and vignettes of contemporary Egyptian life.
Delicate ceramics by Hoda Ragaa highlight the artist’s interest in both sculpture and installation, mixing the concepts fluidly together. Wood and copper sculptures by Sayeda Khalil evoke a sense of futurism, one more benign than a futurism of mad machinery, by juxtaposing polished copper with smooth warm wood. Nevine Farghaly also seeks to evoke a sense of hope in her sculptures of small figures by rendering them with child-like ambiguity posed in mid-play.
The medium of painting is still very important in contemporary Egyptian art, and Ubuntu’s presentation will include both non-abstract works and abstract pieces. Whereas portraits by Samir Fouad depicts everyday Egyptians in a style that marries classic portraiture with his unique contemporary aesthetic, Tarek El Sheikh’s series on clowns pays homage to the motif of clowns and jesters in Egyptian vernacular culture, insinuating both political and social messages about Egypt. Abstract paintings by Sahar Al Amir, Eman Hussein and Rifky El Razzaz are imaginations of their individual mental landscapes, revealing how unfettered painting can be due to boundless experimentations with abstract painting. Each artist explores their current reality and encounters with the world by creating works that emanate powerful energy.
Sudanese artist Mutaz Elemam imbues his abstract paintings with an intense saturation of colour, transporting the viewer to alternative landscapes not necessarily inspired by reality. Snapshots of Cairo have been captured by Mohamed Khedr in works that are almost photographic in their realism; cars stuck in traffic or buildings on a square articulate the poetry of how order within the chaos of Cairo is maintained.
Egypt is even more so animated with the graphic design-influenced aesthetic of Hakeem Abou Kila who depicts the city of Alexandria and its inhabitants by using different aesthetics and layers of both paint and ink.
Masri-pli-Cities seeks to highlight the various directions contemporary Egyptian art is taking and the multiplicity of styles and aesthetics that are developing.