17 - 23 February 2000
Issue No. 469
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
Pack of CardsBy Madame Sosostris
* The Sea (1972-1999) is the name of the latest exhibition by artist Hassan Soliman. Inaugurated yesterday at Al-Hanager, on the Opera grounds, it will last until 15 March. Darlings, I really do not think that someone as famous as my friend Hassan needs any kind of introduction from little old me, and I will therefore not attempt any such thing. Suffice it to say that, if you have even one artistic bone in your body, you owe it to yourself to go and gaze upon this great artist's horizons. If you fail to see anything, you can get the consolation prize, which is that you will have been seen doing it.
* Arabesque Gallery is the venue chosen by artist Gamil Shafik for his new exhibition, which will extend to 3 March. I have always been intrigued by Gamil's apparent obsession with the relationship between women and large fish, and this time I intend to do some in-depth investigative work on the matter.
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* Last week, an exhibition by artist Ahmed Nawar, head of the National Centre for Fine Arts, opened at the Yamama Centre's Gallery Hall in Zamalek. The exhibition, intriguingly titled Nawar's Artistic Quest, showcases 55 of his paintings, including a group of sketches, black and white illustrations depicting Egyptian daily life, landscapes, pastoral scenes and a selection inspired by Nawar's voyages throughout the Arab world and Europe. The plight of the Palestinian refugees has not been forgotten, and features in Nawar's paintings from his student days. Artist and head of the National Centre for Plastic Arts Mohsen Shalaan, and veteran actor Ezzat El-Alaili, were among the most noted visitors to the exhibition.
* The 48th Catholic Centre Festival for Egyptian Cinema concluded its activities last Friday. The awards were distributed by Head of the Arts Academy Fawzi Fahmi, deputising for the Minister of Culture, and by the president of the festival, Father Mazloum. The jury, headed by critic Ahmed El-Hadari, actors Elham Shahin, Farouk El-Fishawi and other celebrities, decided to cancel the best actress category, while the award for best actor was granted to Mahmoud Mursi for his unparalleled performance in the television film The Bridge. Honourable mentions were awarded to outstanding figures in art, criticism and management such as our dear colleague, Al-Ahram's back-page editor and head of the Alexandria International Film Festival Mohamed Saleh, as well as to famous film star Hussein Fahmi, who heads the Cairo International Film Festival. Naguib El-Rihani was also remembered on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his death. Veteran actor George Sidhom was represented by his wife Linda, who received his award on his behalf. This year, a new award for best documentary film was created; this went to The Flight of the Holy Family in Egypt, directed by Samiha El-Ghoneimi. Director Sherif Arafa received an award for his film Aboud Ala Al-Hudoud, for which Hassan Hosni was also granted a certificate of recognition. The Farid El-Mizawi prize, named after the founder of the festival, went to the recent comedy hit Hammam fi Amsterdam. Actor Ahmed El-Saqqa was honoured for his role in the same film and, as you may have expected, the vivacious Samira Ahmed was commended for her role in the TV series A Woman from the Age of Love.
* The American University in Cairo Press has announced the establishment of a publishing endowment in support of its expanding programme of scholarly books on Egypt and the Middle East and Arabic Literature in translation. The aim is to subsidise four to six significant new publications for international distribution every year. And what a good idea that is! Initiated by AUC President John Gerhart and Mark Linz, the director of the AUC Press, the endowment is already receiving personal contributions from senior managers and additional matching fund contributions as well.
* There was no hint of Latin American music at the Midyear Commencement -- the first of the century and of the millennium -- of the American University of Cairo. Even the representative of the master's degree graduates, my dear friend Nermeen El-Nawawi, was dead serious as she addressed the assembly of parents, teachers and students. As the holder of a brand new MA, Nermeen will have to act cool and composed for a while at least, but I do hope that she will outgrow this phase soon and resume her lovable, boisterous character in the very near future.
* The Pharaonic Village has acquired a new feature this month: a museum offering representations of Hellenistic Egypt, in which Alexander the Great, the Ptolemies, Cleopatra, models of ancient Alexandria and the library that went up in flames are all on display. Among those who attended the opening ceremony, hosted by chairman of board of the village Abdel-Salam Ragab, were Gaballa Ali Gaballa, secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Antiquities, Constantin Papps, Mikhail Michael, and Atilito De Gasperis, cultural attachés of Greece, Cyprus and Italy respectively.
* I have recently developed a great passion for all things South American, so Three Decades of Venezuelan Sculpture seemed to be just the thing for me this week. The exhibition opened at the Opera Art Gallery in collaboration with the Embassy of Venezuela. Many ambassadors, among whom I spotted Jaime Giron, ambassador of Colombia, Ramiro Battista, ambassador of Panama, chargé d'affaires Domingo Chacon, cultural attaché and painter Maria Obdulia Lopez-Henriquez and deputy chief of mission at the Spanish Embassy Jasper Diaz Blanco, attended. The exhibition, lasting until 29 February, displays creations by Venezuelan artists who became famous during the last 30 years, such as Barreto, Carlos Prada, Nelson Varela and Oscar Quintana. Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Jose Rangel was kind enough to point out the lasting influence of ancient Arab culture on South American art. No one, however, invited me to give an impromptu display of my samba talents. Their loss, I would say.
* Hear ye, hear ye, classical music lovers: the special adviser for music to the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, famous pianist Ramzi Yassa, has invited Yuing Wook Yoo, a young and gifted Korean pianist, to play at the Opera House's Small Hall on 22 February. This is going to be a very exceptional concert, which I would not miss for the world.
* Good news for those of you who sometimes tire of jetsetting and gallery-hopping: you will now be able to watch a good show in the comfort of your homes, as our great film star Faten Hamama has recently started shooting the first episode of a new television serial, Autumn Leaves, in which another great actor, Gamil Ratib, will also be starring. Minister of Information Safwat El-Sherif was at Media City to witness the beginning of the action.
* Several business delegations from India have made their appearance lately in Cairo. I personally attended a very interesting talk on how to set up and market small cottage industries. Darlings, just the thought of all those gorgeous saris and little handcrafted chests of drawers makes me positively salivate. The speaker was S K Tuteja, India's additional secretary and development comissioner for small-scale industries, who is the counterpart of Hussein El-Gammal, maanaging director of the Social Fund for Development. The Indian delegation visited the Egyptian countryside to take note of how cottage industries flourish in this particular environment before proceding on a more traditional tour of the sites. Tobacco seems to be of mutual interest and a large delegation of tobacco manufacturers and traders will be visiting Egypt. I wonder if I should not let it be known that they should see me first. After all, during all these years of smoking happily, I must have learned a thing or two. The delegation will be headed by S M Acharya of the Indian Ministry of Commerce, who is also joint secretary and chairman of the Tobacco Board of India.
* Our dear colleague Ezzat Ibrahim from Al-Ahram's Foreign Desk was engaged to Christine Talaat, a Cairo University graduate in English literature, at an intimate ceremony. We at Al-Ahram Weekly extend our warmest congratulations to the happy couple.