Li-Beirut campaign launches visual art exhibition showcasing local talent
CAIRO: Showcasing local talent while expressing support for Lebanon, Li-Beirut launched their visual art exhibition Monday night at the Ebdaa Gallery in Mohandiseen. The three-week-old Cairo-based campaign to express solidarity with Lebanon has gathered together an impressively diverse array of artistic works, which have all been donated by the artists. The proceeds will go to various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) providing aid in Lebanon.
Contemplating the group’s speedy development, organizer Mohammed Yosri said, “This makes us believe a lot more in our ability as individuals, to organize and be active and participate. It’s great to feel we’re not completely useless, helpless or powerless. We have the potential to do great things.
Artist Atteya Mustafa was perhaps the most striking example of this. Sitting beside her masterpiece, the small elderly woman was completely dwarfed by the massive painting towering above her. Titled “The Names of God, Mustafa says she spent years finishing the painting.
Pointing to the thousands of Arabic words in her piece, she says it represents a new artistic style blending calligraphy and painting. Though she stoutly refused any attempts to photograph her piece, Mustafa said she had specifically chosen the painting for this solidarity campaign fundraiser, “because many countries say wrong things about Islam. I want them to see what is beautiful about Islam, and I want them to read about Islam.
Seated next to Mustafa was artist Nagli M. Basilios. He was so enthusiastic about the fundraising exhibit that he offered three paintings for sale. Within the first few hours of the opening, one of his pieces had already been sold.
Describing his work as “modern impressionism, Mustafa said his two currently exhibited pieces are scenes from Islamic Cairo that express his frustration at the lack of care and renovation of the ancient city. But his third piece, hidden away for a later exhibition, is a direct response to the conditions in Lebanon. Painted on a charred, battered wooden board are the feet of Christ nailed to the cross. Basilios said the religious theme came from relating his own Coptic identity to the suffering of the Lebanese.
“Human beings are suffering. I don’t care if they’re Islamist or not. I feel sympathy with human beings there.
Artist Moatez Nasr also contributed a piece relating to Lebanon. His piece is a “sunprint, an enlarged photograph he took of the reflection of a face in a pool of water. He says the rippled effects of the face’s reflection reveal his feelings about the situation.
“It has to do with us; not only Lebanon. It’s about this whole region. It’s exactly how the people feel and what they look like. The face is deformed and it shows insecurity, like the people in the region are very insecure.
Some artists preferred not to contribute work that made direct references to Lebanon. “What I feel about Lebanon is too powerful, says Shady El-Noshokaty. He feels such paintings are not the point of the exhibition. “It’s not about how you feel about Lebanon. It’s about how we can give something to help them.
Smiling over her work, Shadia Al-Fasheery had another reason for choosing the work that she contributed. “I just like it, she laughs. She contributed a large abstract portrait done in white pastel on a black canvas. She calls the style analytical art.
Al-Fasheery seemed happy with her contribution. “It’s expensive, and I want to help Lebanon! Her piece went for LE 4,000 later in the evening, but she insisted the price was low. “I would only sell it for this cheap for Lebanon.
Al-Fasheery hit on a theme common to all the artists here. “In the end, I wish I could offer more, explains Moatez Nasr. “The money is nothing.