Egypt's long established relationship and interaction with visuals have garnered this country the reputation of being one of the most significant and fascinating timelines to follow in art history. Since the times of the ancient, Egyptians have excelled in the art of sculpting, painting, and even turned their written language into a form of art. As time passed, several movements emerged becoming part of Egypt's rich artistic history, such as the eras of Coptic Egypt and Islamic Egypt that introduced the ornamental details carved into every wall of the country's cities. The past's vision was inherited by contemporary artists, and invested in their interpretations of both the struggles and beauty found in Egypt at the turn of 20th century and into the 21st century.
Arts-Mart is one of those places you'll find all the aforementioned talents epitomised in the works of the most leading and aspiring artists interpreting Egypt today. Arts-Mart, which is the largest online gallery to buy original Egyptian artwork, is kicking off its second Cairo Art Fair
on December 9th until February 15th. This year promises to raise the artistic bar, exhibiting a wide range of works from contemporary artists who are just beginning, to those who have practised art for over 60 years, mastering the craft of capturing Egypt in surreal and abstract masterpieces. Excited by the return of this breathtaking Cairo Art Fair, we decide to reach out to 11 contemporary artists who will be featured at the fair and were kind of enough to share with us their inspirations and experience of showcasing their impressive work across the planet.
Easily one of Egypt's most brilliant artists, Khaled Hafez's work represents the eternal yet fascinating conflict between the contemporary pop culture and Egyptian heritage. With detailed subjects ranging from Batman to hieroglyphics, he incorporates the themes of politics, sense of place, memory and time, and iconic characters from TV or myths, onto various canvases roaming exhibitions from America to Japan. Arts-Mart, with their keenness on bringing forth artists in a space to showcase their work, have created a larger community inclusive of artists with a variety of backgrounds. Hafez's work, which is sold all over the world, definitely makes for a priceless and significant addition at the Art Fair II.
Known for being a talented painter since childhood, Zaki began studying commerce in university and arts on the side, eventually gaining an opportunity to assist and study sculpting in Italy alongside world-renowned sculptors. Returning to Egypt with a set of exceptional skills and knowledge, he gradually started dedicating himself to the craft. He became a full-time sculptor in 2011, spending every day in his studio, working on chiseling his Egyptian heritage and background using stones and metals to communicate themes with art appreciators around the world. His exhibitions usually happen outside of Egypt, but Zaki made an exception for Arts-Mart believing "It's time to give back," highlighting that the Art Fair II greatest asset is providing support for the art community and shining a light on Egypt's young up-and-coming artistic talents.
One of Egypt's most established contemporary artists, Abla will be enchanting the attendees of the Cairo Art Fair II with a performance piece on opening night. The painter, who's an avid user of colours, says that "The piece will be about the way colours can move!" Abla loves to create crowds with his use of various shapes and hues, all leading to a combination of people and domestic animals while highlighting them amidst their bustling worlds.
Britt Boutros Ghali
An artist since birth, Ghali believes that getting involved in Arts-Mart's Art Fair is inspirational, educational, and a reflection of her own work which aspires to send positive vibes in the eyes of the beholder. Since the age of 21, this national treasure has exhibited her work twice a year over an impressive 50-year career. As of late, the talented artist has shifted her style from abstract expressionism to portraits showcasing women adorned and decorated with jewelry and details that epitomise the beautiful spirit she spreads throughout her masterpieces.
Mahmoud El Deweihy
A native of Aswan and originally a commerce graduate-turned-sculptor in the year 2000, El Deweihy is one of Egypt's most established young sculptors often showcasing his works across the Arab region and Europe. His artworks display his affinity for all that's found in nature – from his materials to his subjects. He mostly uses granite, which he believes, is an extension of the pharaohs use of the same media in chiseling and sculpting. El Deweihy believes in the revolutionary artist movement that Arts-Mart created, explaining that in the past exhibits of this scale were traditionally only organised by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. He also praises the gallery's ability to creatively curate a collection of uniquely different contemporary artists highlighting the diversity of Egypt's arts scene.
Mohamed Abu El Waffa
Abu El Waffa is an up-and-coming contemporary artist, with a passion of capturing folkloric puppetry. His art is a beautiful combination of cool and warm colours while merging authentic themes with modern techniques. His participation with Arts-Mart marks his first time to do so, and we can confirm he is a wonderful inclusion, as very few artists focus on Egyptian fables and tales that have been imprinted in all of our minds during our childhoods. His paintings, though conveying familiarity, exert distinctiveness in the contrast seen between the plain and the patterned which he believes "came as a result of him entering the world of our current and past customs and rituals, and history."
A first-time participant in the Arts-Mart fair, Yaoud says art is an experience that he could never separate himself from – which seems like he's found the perfect place to foster his talents. The aspiring artist's pieces focus on two elements; portraits and homes. Yaoud believes that exploring these two elements bring together the individual and the communal – with every painting attempting to draw on this closeness and achieving works that channel unity, togetherness, and the erasure of borders.
A graduate of the AUC holding a Master's degree in Fine Arts from Central Saint Martins University in London, Nada Baraka's relationship with Arts-Mart started when she actually used to work for them. Baraka's paintings are one-of-a-kind, as they gradually take the audience from the shallow end to the colourful deep end, with her use of diverse skin and flesh tones, and her depictions of the human anatomy – using minimal and concrete strokes. She believes Arts-Mart's effort is visionary, especially when one witnesses all the young and older artists coming together, beautifully expressing that "You're able to walk yourself through the earliest stages of art, to the most developed," when examining all the works displayed at Art Fair II.
Egypt's recent uprisings ushered in a wave of expression using the artistic medium of Graffiti. Badawy and his colleagues garnered the reputation of being at the forefront of this explosion of colourful statements across the city and will be featured at Arts Fair II. A graduate of Fine Arts from Luxor University, Badawy is dedicated to the art of painting and graffiti under the influence of modern impressionism and expressionism. His paintings come alive with vibrant colour, elegant brushstrokes, and dominant portrayals of subjects. This year will mark his first participation in the Arts-Mart's Art Fair, and emphasises the significance of their work as game changing in terms of connecting a plethora of directions and schools of art with underground and experienced artists across Egypt.
Sabry became part of the Egyptian arts movement as early as 2002, with his sculpting harmoniously accentuating the connection between the present day and mythology. Starting with an interest in cave art found across Southern Europe and all of Africa, he now teaches at the University of Alexandria, and gained notoriety creating a statue made with his own two hands standing on the island of Crete in Greece! As for Arts-Mart, he was selected as one of the Artists of Tomorrow, where aspiring artists get to showcase their work; he says it’s definitely been a remarkable experience seeing how they've innovated the way art is marketed, priced, and valued based on its artistic merit. He also feels that Art Fair II is set to be an incredible group of artists coming together from varying roots and stories, with their unity preserving and perpetuating each others’ talents.
Selected for the Artists of Tomorrow exhibition in 2016, Fadel is humbled and honoured to have her work showcased during Art Fair II – emphasising that she's looking forward to seeing the collection of diverse artistic works encapsulating different spaces, experiences, and stories inspiring Egypt's talented artistic community. She describes painting as her true core and is a medium which makes her feel happy and alive. She shares with us a beautiful excerpt of her sister Reem's poetry which perfectly sums up the excitement leading up to December 9th Art Fair II, expressing that "You can connect with a painting, just as much as you can connect with a person."
Check out Cairo Art Fair II running December 9th - February 15th by visiting their event page on their Facebook, Instagram @artsmartgallery, and their website!