Wednesday,14 November, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1367, (2 - 8 November 2017)
Wednesday,14 November, 2018
Issue 1367, (2 - 8 November 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Night at the museum

Al-Ahram Weekly spent an enchanting night of art at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir where its heritage preservation initiative was launched


Night at the museum
Night at the museum

At the garden of the Egyptian Museum in the heart of Cairo, Nevine El-Aref and a number of Egyptian and foreign artists, intellectuals, businessmen, ambassadors and Arab dignitaries gathered to spend a night of art.

Under the name “Eternal Light. Something Old, Something New” the first exhibition in a series of pop-up shows to be held at heritage sites across Egypt was inaugurated Saturday night at the Egyptian Museum.

Curated by Nadine Abdel-Ghaffar, founder of Art D’Egypte, the exhibition put on a collection of 16 artworks of Egypt’s renowned contemporary artists displayed against the timeless backdrop of Pharaonic artefacts within the halls of the gigantic Egyptian Museum. The artworks were influenced by ancient Egyptian art such as that of artist Mohamed Abla who draws two different worlds that meet: modern Cairo representing life and the Pyramid of Giza representing death. Both are engaged in an evocative discourse.

Farouk Hosni’s paintings depict a bold profile of a man mountain, evoking traditional ancient Egyptian depictions as seen on tombs and temple walls. Adel Al-Siwi made an embodiment of the ibis shaped god Thoth while Esmat Sawestashi’s artwork depicts a mummy within its sarcophagus. Farouk Wahba carved a clay figure showing a small sphinx holding three pots of organic colour on its back. Hoda Lotfi sculpted a small obelisk and Youssef Nabil painted himself before a wall engraved with hieroglyphic text.

“We wanted to highlight the link between contemporary art and ancient Egyptian Pharaonic art through displaying both together, creating a profound dialogue of art,” Abdel-Ghaffar told Al-Ahram Weekly. She said the exhibition brings together works by Egypt’s most prominent contemporary artists to show the world that Egypt continues to play a crucial role in contemporary artistic and cultural life. The artworks on display draw upon various elements of the styles, movement, colour and themes of Ancient Egyptian art and transforms them into multi-faceted conversations that reflect and reinterpret the complexity of Egyptian culture for the 21st century’s global audience.

“In addition, the exhibition also aims to draw attention to rehabilitation initiatives at the Egyptian Museum. In conjunction with the planned events, Art D’Égypte has succeeded in helping the Ministry of Antiquities secure sponsorships from private sector donors for several vital projects in the museum,” Abdel- Gaffar said.

“This initiative shows that artistic creativity extended along the span of history until now and contemporary art is an extension of the art of our ancient Egyptian ancestors,” artist Abla told the Weekly.

Visitors to the exhibition will see how the backdrop of ancient Egyptian artefacts imbues the contemporary works with deeper resonance and enhances their ability to build the next layer of the Egyptian history. Simultaneously, the presence of contemporary Egyptian artwork in this setting will stimulate the audience to question long-held interpretations of ancient Egyptian culture.

Belgium Ambassador to Egypt Sibille de Cartier described the event as “beautiful, where a bit of old and a bit of new combined together, and this is the impressive talent of Egypt.”

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Anany welcomed the guests to spend an exceptional and unforgettable night at the museum where contemporary art and ancient Egyptian treasures are engaged in a profound dialogue.

Through art, El-Anany said, Egypt along the span of history has created an essential aspect of its civilisation from the prehistoric period along the Pharaonic, Jewish, Christian and Islamic eras until now. It is shown in drawings, jewelleries, reliefs, sculptures, paintings and architecture.

El-Anany said that although several of its treasured collections are now being taken from their original display for the Grand Egyptian Museum overlooking the Giza Plateau, “the Egyptian Museum will remain one of Egypt’s landmarks and will display ancient Egyptian schools of art through the ages.”

The ministry has started a comprehensive refurbishing of Tahrir Museum. The indoor and outdoor lighting system has been upgraded, and the walls of the museum’s halls have been polished, showing their original colours. New metal shelves are to be installed in the basement replacing the old wooden ones, and artefacts that have been hidden in stores for years will be unearthed from the basement and put on display at the museum for the first time.

Other artefacts will be replaced such as the collection of Yuya and Tuya which will replace King Tutankhamun’s collection after it heads for the Grand Egyptian Museum.

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