London witnessed a new addition to its art scene Saturday, with the launch of the Espacio Gallery, which opened with an inaugural exhibition featuring two Egyptian artists, Enas Elsadiek and Mohamed Negm.
The exhibition, entitled 100 metres, 100 artists, featured one artwork by each of Espacio’s artists.
Elsadiek and Negm are both fuelled by art’s ability to convey unspoken emotions and interpret the world through colour, texture, and dimension. The influence of their country of origin, Egypt, is portrayed in their work. The Egyptians spoke to Ahram Online about their London show.
For Enas Elsadiek, art is the only way she can express herself, and she uses it to establish a connection with her spirit. Art has power over her too. “It pulls me together when I am disappointed.”
Elsadiek also uses art to change her environment. She is a contemporary artist specialising in installation. Installation art yields three-dimensional works that are designed to transform the perception of interior spaces, explains Elsadiek.
She uses living materials such as bacteria, fungus and algae in order to symbolise the rhythm of life, with the changes of colours and shapes that occur naturally in such living organisms.
“I am the only Egyptian artist who is working in Bio Art, as I like to achieve movement in my work, which happens through growth,” she says.
Elsadiek is driven by women’s freedom, or rather the lack thereof, and she takes inspiration from the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo whose strength and courage to stand up to loneliness and suffering she admires.
Elsadiek is exhibiting a mono print of an Upper Egyptian man with two of his children entitled Galabia in London; a piece she created during an art residency in Switzerland in 2009.
She says she painted this “because I missed Egypt…where I can find the warm family feeling, where I can find safe and true meaning of love.”
Like Elsadiek, Mohamed Negm finds great comfort in art; it is an outlet for expression, and a tool through which to change realities and get in touch with undeclared emotions.
For Negm, art “fills a desire to create.”
Art is not a mere pastime or career in Negm’s life. “I am always observing and looking to inform my art, even in my day-to-day activities.”
Negm is driven by the hidden possibilities of colour. He is thrilled by the “uncertainty associated with the way the paint behaves. The process of creating art is not controlled by the artist alone, it is a fluid, dynamic relationship with paint."
“My art is inspired by movement and energy,” Negm explains. “I find great value in exploring the possibilities of paint and texture.”
Despite his interest in urban landscapes, Negm attempts to render scenes in an expressive and imaginative manner. He also tackles issues of “socio-cultural awareness, and the human experiences of situations and places.”
Even though Negm grew up in the West, he still draws inspiration from his Egyptian heritage. His multi-identity resounds in his work, taking turns to influence his artistic endeavours. Most recently, the Arab Spring has charged the artist with inspiration.
“I had a burning desire to paint about Egypt and the revolution,” says Negm
Like many British-born Egyptians, Negm found himself fixated by the scenes he watched though the media, and felt somewhat uninvolved with events. Still, he found inspiration in the revolution, and could not deny his fluctuating emotional responses. Through it all, he was not concerned with politics, but rather with the change on the streets.
At the Espacio exhibition, he is showcasing a painting inspired by Egypt, entitled Red Square - Pheonix Rising, and another representing modern life called Mountains of Things.
“The Egypt painting shows a crowd scene of Tahrir Square, overlooked by bright buildings and a golden background shining through – to reflect an optimism of a hopeful new beginning,” says Negm.
“Whilst the other painting uses the analogy of a mountain to critique the current financial climate we all find ourselves affected by, be it in London or Cairo.”
Negm seized the opportunity to engage with current issues through exhibiting his works at the Espacio in East London, which, he says, "is the more edgy, street savvy part of town – more in touch with the mood of our times.”
Earlier this month, Mohamed Abla, another prominent Egyptian artist, exhibited his works at Artspace, another new London gallery in a solo show entitled My Family, My People.
The exhibition opened on Saturday 19 May and will continue until Tuesday 22 May. from alahram