Inspired by the surge of freedom born in Tahrir Square a year ago, Sirry’s work carries a sense of flexibility and flight. The colours are basic, the canvases at times half-painted – perhaps in allusion to the unfinished revolution. Yet a sense of purpose pervades the collection; elongated figures and vibrant heads, sometimes intertwined with open windows, stand in line, breaking out of darkness and seemingly moving forward.
Minimalism seems to be the dominant style in “Time and Place.” The veteran artist makes interesting use of empty space on her larger canvases, bringing out the boldly coloured figures and allowing viewers to complete the image in their own mind. By purposely leaving some white canvas in the work, Sirry paints a fresh start, inviting spectators to effectively fill in the blanks: a feature very much needed in this time and place.
This is Sirry’s 71st exhibition. The prolific artist has been exploring the arts since the 1950s, reflecting the world around her on canvas through the decades. Gazbia Sirry has constructed her own world through the years, creating formless, expressive characters that tell tales through posture and color.
This collection mirrors the artist’s response to the January 25 revolution; the canvases reveal a certain confidence in tomorrow. Sirry paints open windows intertwined with buoyant, brightly colored figures, masterfully orchestrating bright and breezy scenes. Peering into Sirry’s artwork is a gratifying experience; she does not merely apply paint to canvas, she does so spontaneously, with emotion. Green drips down the white canvas, chunks of scarlet leap off. The rawness pulls you in.
Sirry’s colors in this exhibition are delightfully juvenile. At times it feels like a box of crayons has exploded in the frame. The green is reminiscent of fresh grass, the red evocative of poppies or blood. You can make out faces from the mess of color as they overlap in a blur.
One of the strongest pieces is a larger than life canvas with a procession of bright red, elongated figures standing in a row, walking towards a band of green in the corner of the canvas while the rest remains untouched. The painting creates a sense of direction, of unity, as if the red figures have broken out of the same body and are heading towards the fresh green vortex, leading to a different time and place.
“Time and Place” reignites our sense of hope. The expressionist paintings are as rich in emotion as they are in colour. Sirry’s vibrant collection at the Zamalek Art Gallery is both soothing and animated, reinstating a belied in this place, at this time.
The exhibition runs until March 14 at the Zamalek Art Gallery, 11 Brazil Street, Zamalek