Monday,27 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1426, (17 - 23 January 2019)
Monday,27 May, 2019
Issue 1426, (17 - 23 January 2019)

Ahram Weekly

Rediscovered cache

Sculptor Hassan Kamel tells Reham El-Adawi about the unique experience of exhibiting his work in the Egyptian Museum


Hassan Kamel

You are back

O soul, inhabit your home

Home that lights up again

Home that suffered a lot

How many homes are in need of their souls

Souls walked far away

Souls were lost

Souls were trapped

But one day they will return home

Countless time ever

Unwritten hope was lost

Our standstill hopes remain within

We are who counts our own time

The Dream

These words by Hassan Kamel, hanging on the gallery wall in Arabic and English, express the inspiration behind the second instalment of his exhibition “The Cache Vision II”, currently on show at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square (Room 44, ground floor). “The Cache Vision I” was held in 2017 at Al-Bab Hall in the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art on the Cairo Opera House grounds. Drawing his inspiration from Egyptian civilisation, Kamel creates three-dimensional statements on present-day issues. His vision benefits from his academic credentials as a holder of PhD in sculpture and a teacher of the art. “The ancient Egyptians,” he tells me, “did not see sculpture as an art so much as a language pervading all aspects of life — buildings, walls and living spaces.”

Kamel is the first sculptor to exhibit at the Egyptian Museum, a new initiative that places contemporary sculptors among ancient monuments. Kamel is a good choice since his work is virtually indistinguishable from that of his ancestors. His cache uses various materials — marble, bronze, ceramic, mixed media and paint — to present boxes, jewellery, cups and scarabs. A corridor of wood with fabric depicting the sky in the ancient Egyptian style leads into the room. “I wanted viewers to feel they were entering a Pharaonic temple or tomb — only to be surprised by the modern sculptures, before recognising their ancient spirit.”

Holy of the Holies

On reaching the end of the corridor the viewer is greeted by a winged spirit nestled in inscriptions — a painting. Here as in his sculptures Kamel pursues the notion of resurgence, affirming the continuity of the Egyptian spirit. Recalling the Soul I is a figure of painted foam longitudinally lit, while Glow is a bronze and gold-leaf take on the lotus flower. Lotus Rise, a mixed media painting, is another lotus flower that doubles as an architectural scheme. A bronze sculpture shows Horus with his wings spread, while an oxide-on-wood drawing shows him cutting through the sky, connecting north and south.

The Holy of Holies, in basalt and bronze with gold-leaf, is a geometric mass reflecting the architectural values of ancient Egypt which represents the ultimate stage of intellectual and spiritual development. One bust pays tribute to Kamel’s mentor and godfather, the world-renowned Egyptian sculptor Abdel-Ghaffar Shedid, who not only helped Kamel but went so far as to purchase his sculptures in order to encourage him.

Glow (photo: Reham El-Adawi)

In “The Cache Vision I”, Kamel redesigned Al-Bab Hall, building wood partitions and a corridor ending on higher ground to show some of the same works. “But this time I am showcasing archaeological works that represent the most important ancient Egyptian artistic elements that inspired me in terms of form and concept: the incomplete statue of a standing figure, the slice of metal embodying Horus and the block of limestone representing one of the tables of offerings with inscriptions of the lotus flower.”

According to Kamel, the most encouraging outcome so far is that art students from Austria and China have shown an intense interest in the exhibition. “They asked me very exciting questions about the Pharaohs and were impressed when I explained the concepts behind my contemporary sculptures and how the show that the grandchildren of the ancient Egyptians are also creators, innovators and have their own modern artistic vision. I believe that having other contemporary artists exhibiting at the Egyptian Museum will help to send the message that the Egyptian cultural and artistic scene is alive and well.”

Open daily from 9am to 4.30pm (and also from 5.30pm to 9pm on Sundays and Thursdays). The exhibition runs through 20 January.

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