Monday December 11th, 2023
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Inside one of Cairo’s Most Subversive Art Exhibitions

Seasoned Syrian artist Souad Mardam Bey makes us walk a mile in Adam’s shoes, as we tread lightly through the human experience.

Staff Writer

Written by Ahmed Ikram and Nour Kamel.

As humans, we tend to see things at face value for ease of convenience, one tinged with stereotypes and colloquialisms more often than not. When one looks at another, they immediately think “Oh, this one is X, so naturally he enjoys Y” or “This one believes in Q, so she must be into the notion of Z.” It’s entirely easy to just brand any random specimen of conscience as one or another, especially here in Egypt, where a name can easily denote all sorts of connotations and misconceptions; if somebody’s a Michael, they’re an ultra-orthodox fundamentalist. If somebody just so happens to be an Abdelrahman, you’re automatically branded as a strict Muslim with black and white views on morality.

But what if we weren’t preordained to be an archetype? What if we were carte blanche? What if an entity of no specific origin, creed or tendency were to exist? To roam this earth as it is, as it was and as it should always be? This is the concept that veteran artist Souad Mardam Bey had in mind when she conceptualized her newest exhibition, titled “Adam,” inspired by the words of Syrian poet Mohammed Al-Maghout.

“I was inspired by something that my friend, a poet by the name of Mohammed Al-Maghout, wrote about the first human, it became the main symbolic drive behind the exhibition,” Mardam Bey told us, “Adam, the actual prophet, was the entity that tied the entire exhibition together.

If one were to infer the essence behind the scenes of Mardam Bey’s newest exhibition, it would be one delving somewhat deep into the human experience; in the sense that one should be born not into circumstantial strife, but to experience existence without bias, without undue hostility and without hollow obligations to any faction, creed or community. To experience the world and those in it fluidly, seamlessly and with an open, weightless heart.

“The ultimate goal is to get the audience to enjoy what they’re laying their eyes on. I did not intend to stir up any deep existential conversations, nor to make a firm point, the only thing I intended to do was to express myself, and maybe hope to offer the world something truly beautiful.” Mardam Bay commented.

Her use of rose gold; though not uncommon, it often implies symbolism, and plays into the richness and the depth of the human experience, and despite the apparent misery or gloomy appearance of the characters depicted in her art, they have a purpose worth living for, they firmly believe that life is a gift not to be squandered.

The Adam exhibition officially opened on the 7th of January and will continue to be held until the 24th. Be sure to head to Zamalek Art Gallery's Facebook page for more info about their wonderful exhibitions.