By Fanny Ohier
Last Tuesday and Wednesday, the Four Seasons Plaza hosted one of the most diverse art exhibitions in Cairo, featuring the artworks of over 40 artists, all under the tight supervision of the event’s curator, Lina Mowafi.
About three years ago, Mowafi and her friend Dina Shaaban had the idea to connect those searching for original art with the artists producing it. This is how ArtsMart began, becoming the largest online art gallery in Egypt and the Middle East. While the online gallery offers free access to art for a wider audience, it lacks a means of viewing the art in person; for this purpose, ArtsMart also couples its online activity with art exhibitions.
For two days last week, visitors could swap the virtual representations of ArtsMart’s merchandise for the much more impressive works themselves. To be sure, standing in front of on one of Assem Abdel Fattah’s gigantic canvas is breathtaking.
“We wanted to show the public the new artists, the new talents, which also means new visions and ideologies,” Mowafi explained. “ArtsMart aims to give contemporary visual art a scene.” From the numerous artists they promote on their website, the members of ArtsMart chose about forty that participated in the exhibition in the Nile Ballroom of the Four Seasons. Some of them are already renowned, while others are “artists to watch” for the coming years.
The exhibition was designed so visitors could enjoy meandering among the works and a very simple biography of the artists helped the viewer understanding their art. Moreover, on the first day of the exhibition, several of the artists whose works were presented came to meet their public.
What makes ArtsMart stand out is the wide variety of art styles it represents, on clear display in the exhibition. From Nazir Tanbouli’s expressionist paintings to Ahmed Sabry’s political drawings; from the realism of Walaa Mohamed Yehia’s pieces to Britt Boutros Ghali’s abstract art; visitors were put face to face with the diversity of contemporary Egyptian art. “We wanted to have an exhibition that showed the widest and most varied art styles possible,” Mowafi said. “We gathered artists from very different artistic backgrounds and coming from different areas of Egypt, like Cairo, Ismailia and Alexandria.”
Mowafi, who also paints, considers that culture should be open to everyone, which was the driving idea behind establishing the ArtsMart website and exhibitions. She hopes they will show off the heterogeneity of art in Egypt. “I think ArtsMart is a good introduction to people who want to have an entrance into Egyptian art,” she said.
Indeed, the diversity is striking. Those interested in Dali’s surrealist style can concentrate on Rostom’s pieces; or, for those fans of fauvism, check out Ibrahim El Tanbouli’s paintings. The website and the exhibition also feature new artist Hossam Dirar and Omar El Nagdi’s masterpieces.
ArtsMart serves as both a gateway to Egyptian talents and as a reference point for art lovers. On the website, the visitor can browse the different pieces of art and consult their dimensions, and if interested, use an application to visualise how it would look on a wall. From there, the piece can be purchased directly through the website and shipped directly to the home to grace a wall of one’s choice.