Exhibitions by Hussein Shaboury and Neamat El Diwany
Aside from the wonderful Nazir Tanbouli and Ibrahim Khatab shows in Zamalek, I also saw exhibitions by Neamat El Diwany at Zamalek Art Gallery and Hussein Shaboury at Samah Gallery – both in the district of Zamalek.
Neamat El Diwany
“When Magnolias Bloom’ is the title of El Diwany’s show. The paintings in the show all feature or refer to a magnolia flower. The magnolia is a very ancient tree, and its bountiful flowers are both gorgeous and have many uses, from perfume to medicine. Magnolias are one of the most primitive plants in evolutionary history. Fossil records show that magnolias existed in Europe, North America and Asia over 100 million years ago. Today they are indigenous only in Southern China and the Southern United States, but are grown widely around the world.
The artist’s exhibition text notes that “There is something arresting and ethereal about a magnolia tree in bloom. Something divine and mystical that reminds me of a whirling dervish bursting in grace and total liberation.” The magnolia flower symbolizes nobility and perseverance. It denotes also the love of nature. It represents a strong but gentle beauty.
El Diwany’s subjects exist in a liminal space between childhood and myth, a space inhabited by fanciful animals and bathed in resplendent colours. They hold magnolia blossoms often in a gesture of giving the blossoms to others, gestures of generosity and love.
In contrast, the exhibition at Sameh Gallery by Dr Hussein Shaboury (artist, museum designer and Professor of Design) is rooted in realism, offering landscapes and still life (the show title is “Landscape & Nature morte”). The two genres as created by Shaboury are highly distinctive, each inviting the viewer to look at the familiar in a new way. The landscapes are detailed and faithful renderings of everyday scenes in Egypt – scenes at once familiar to any sojourner in the countryside – and powerful evocations of the natural world, particularly its light and colour. The still lifes play with the idea of unimportant objects having strong aesthetic value – an appropriate subject for a master of design.
As I have discussed before in this blog, one key aspect of Egyptian modernism is its ability to capture the unmistakeable peculiarities of Egyptian light and how it illuminates landscapes and cityscapes. Shaboury captures this with ease and flair; his realism is not photographic, instead, he captures the feel of the places and objects he is depicting.