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Best of 2019: Top 10 Art Exhibitions in Egypt

Updated on February 5, 2020
Heba El Moaz profile image

El Moaz is passionate about art and contemporary art in general and highly believes in the Egyptian emerging talented artists in specific.

1. The Banyan Tree by Mervert Allam at Gypsum Art Gallery, Maadi,Cairo, Egypt.

March 27, 2019 April 20, 2019

"The Banyan Tree" is a solo art show based on a series of meticulous acrylic paintings and drawings that portray cyborg creatures, combining dramatic compositions of industrial and machine parts juxtaposed with human organs, botanical elements and cellular forms.

A stunning display with an interesting relationship between the mechanical and the organic, especially the plants and flowers that are composed of geometric shapes. Also the intricate details of the composition used by Allam gives the viewer a deep perspective between man, technology and nature, and goes on to explore their inseparable evolution on a visual and formal level.

2. Il était une fois à Éden by Khaled Hafez at Ofok Gallery, Museum Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil, Giza, Egypt.

Curated by Ehab El-Labban

April 17, 2019 August 10, 2019

Installed in the main exhibition hall of Ofok Gallery at Museum Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil, “Il était une fois à Éden“ (which translates to 'Once upon a time in Eden' in English) is an art exhibition by Khaled Hafez that consists of painting, sculpture, installation and animation.

When you enter, you feel like you're in one enormous interactive artwork. The highlight of the exhibition is the moving characters. For over 20 years, throughout his artistic journey, Hafez has concentrated primarily on the construction of certain categories and the overlaps between them: East/West, sacred/commercial, old/new, good/evil, animal/human, male/female, and static/kinetic.

3. Smells like Teen Spirit by Youssef Rageb at SOMA Art Gallery , Zamalek, Cairo Egypt.

April 16, 2019 May 29, 2019

"Smells like Teen Spirit" is an exceptional show, an examination of a never-ending rite of passage through a visual narrative that draws links between a Freudian view of puberty and a male-dominated dystopian Metropolis which seems stuck in a state of constant adolescence.

Borrowing from iconic imagery of the teenage culture from baby boomers and generation X, the analogy shines clearly by depicting their obsession with guns, sex, drugs, aliens, particle colliders and ideals, and tying them to imperialist notions, hydrogen bombs, space races and world domination.

If there was ever any doubt about comics art drawing, Ragheb's mastery over the medium managed to impressed the viewer with his level of detail and research behind each piece. The cutout in the artwork gives it uniquely 3D dimension that lends you a connection with the subject, whether it's a historical event or a public figure. Tying it all together is the titular Nirvana song, its lyrics interspersed throughout the exhibition to bring back childhood memories and serve as a powerful connection with the exhibit's central concept.

4. 13th Cairo International Biennale, at Palace of arts , Museum of Modern Art, Aisha Famy PalaceDowntown, Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.

Curated by Ehab El-Labban

June 10, 2019 August 10, 2019

This was a bombastic comeback event after an 8-year absence with a total of 78 artists from 52 countries, including 12 Arab and 15 African countries. With a showcase of Eastern art that brought them together with influences from other parts of the world, the 13th Cairo International Biennale shook the art community.

Six finalists were selected for the event’s awards with the top prize, the Grand Nile Award, given to Belgian artist Joris Van de Moortel. Other awards went to Egyptian sculptor Ahmed al-Badry, Iraqi artist Sadik Kwaish Alfraji, South Korean artist Kim Heecheon, Austrian artist Brigitte Kowanz and Jordanian artist Ayman Yosri.

Communication about the event was very secretive; the announcement only came out shortly before the event.

Facebook event should be more informative with the artists, artwork, projects. I found the figures for it were so low for such an important occasion: 142 went, interested 437, shared 39.

5.“al-əg-ZAN-dree-əat Shelter Art space, Downtown, Alexandria Egypt.

Curated by SOMA Art Gallery

June 15, 2019 July 15, 2019

Shelter Art Space is a new contemporary art venue sponsored by Sigma properties and was launched in the heart of downtown Alexandria.

SOMA Art Galley brought together 12 contemporary artists across generations to display their works. These 12 artists all hail from the city of Alexandria, and each of them has a unique style that they express through a wide variety of mediums, from painting to film, from photography to sculpture. At “al-əg-ZAN-dree-ə”, these works serve as a demonstration of the enduring tradition of artistry in Alexandra.

The wave of young minds and fresh ideas bring hope and change in the city of Alexandria, as well as to the art and culture scene in Egypt, while enlarging the emerging young art collectors community.

6.Barry Iverson's The Tour, Tintera Art, Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt

June 16, 2019 September 30, 2019

The curation of this exhibition, which was managed by the private sector, was on an international standard which is unique in the Egyptian art market.

The Tour is an attempt to provoke and inquire further into the persistent image of and desire for the 'Orient’ in our collective imagination. Through a series of photographic images, Iverson takes viewers on a visual quest for knowledge of the Orient, the historical truths, reluctant dreams, and overlapping times of the region. With Egypt and the Levant as magnetic focal points for Iverson, the series creates a quiet yet unsettling relationship between past and present, inhabitants and spaces, locals and visitors.

7. 9th Cairo Video Festival , Downtown, Cairo Egypt.

Curated by Medrar for contemporary art

September 9, 2019 September 30, 2019

Time to think outside the box and spread contemporary art. This was the new strategy of the Medrar for Contemporary Art team during its 9th edition that started in September, where they showcased 101 artworks produced after January 2017.

The new strategy is to reach the maximum number people and harvest attention to the practice. To achieve this, they selected popular display venues, mostly focusing on commercial places like malls, cinema, consumer shops in addition to cultural spaces.

The Festival’s events were divided to film screenings at Cinema Zawya, Cimatheque and Cinema AlHadara and Video Art exhibitions at Medrar for Contemporary Art, Cairo Festival City Mall, Cairo Jazz Club, Cimatheque, Diwan Bookstore, El Semary Modern Furniture, Al Araby group (6th October branch), Falak, Omar Effendi Stores and The Factory.

Cairo Video Festival displayed different types of experimental music videos, video performances, interactive films, virtual reality films and other types of screenings.

8.Reimagined Narratives, Downtown, El Moez L Din Allah El Fatemy Street, Cairo Egypt.

Curated by Art D’Egypte

October 19, 2019 November 9, 2019

"Reimagined Narratives" is the third series of pop-up exhibitions to be held at different heritage sites across Egypt by Art D'Égypte.

The third annual art exhibition is on view for three weeks from late October at four historic locations along Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah al-Fatimi Street in the UNESCO world heritage site of Islamic Cairo.

This type of exhibition is the first step to reconnect us with our culture and heritage.

Art D'Égypte has invited 28 contemporary Egyptian artists this year.

Also a broad project curated by Alexandra Stock under the name of "The 29th letter of Alphabet" was running in parallel during the exhibition and it took place at Downtown Cairo in Tamara Building. A program of talks, lectures and workshops and a collaboration with Five Egyptian galleries: Mashrabia Gallery of Contemporary Art, Gallery Misr Karim Francis Gallery, Picasso Gallery, and Atoun Gallery which were displaying works of 43 modern and contemporary Egyptian artists.

I believe if there should be an engaging program for the local art galleries, curators and art critics, the absence of art market stakeholders is necessary otherwise the focus ceases to be on art. Also, they need to emphasize and promote contemporary art and contemporary artists, and link the artwork with the historical spaces.

9.Where is the Fun in Contemporary Art? , Downtown, Cairo Egypt.

Curated by Dina Jereidini and Katie McDougall

October 22, 2019 November 15 , 2019

'Where is the Fun in Contemporary Art?' at Cairo Gaz in Downtown Cairo is a reaction to the dominant conceptual and aesthetic trends in local contemporary art-making.

Once you arrive at the location, you'll see a huge wall that's covered in graffiti and a koshari shop with a political art installation by artist Ammar Abobakr where people interact, eat, chat and draw. This degree of audience participation breaks the norms of a traditional art exhibition and invites participants to question how our sociopolitical context shapes our engagement with fun, while opening up a realm for artistic curiosity to ask, "What is the virtue of the ridiculous?" This exhibition also examines the nuances of fun as a spontaneous and subversive force.

Bringing revolutionary artists together with a selection of artwork was very powerful. There was a very strong conversation between the participants and the artwork within the scope of humor and satire, play and imagination, the bizarre and the whimsical.

10. 42 Bahgat Ali” by Hana El Sagini at Zamalek Art Gallery, Zamalek, Cairo Egypt.

November 17, 2019 December 7 , 2019

Rarely do you encounter such an outstanding display. Once you enter the gallery, you suddenly feel a deep sense of nostalgia and a warm familial mood though a visual illusion, using distorted two-dimensional images and life-size wood cutouts that serves the concept of the place.

Hana El Sagini takes the viewers on a journey through her own personal history and memories, capturing images of her childhood home in the 90s by creating this home art installation project.

Using a blue monochromatic palette , El Sagini illustrates her purposeful need to personally connect with each element, as well as to reinforce the connection between all the various components of her installation.

© 2020 helmoaz


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    • profile image

      Sarah Salmawy 

      8 weeks ago

      Love this. Great read!


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