Hamdi Attia’s exhibition at the Al Masar Gallery features a selection of his works, mostly on paper. The contemporary artist is known for his abstract artwork and he has had many exhibitions in a number of cities across the world, including New York, Paris and Sao Paolo. In 1995 he, together with three other Egyptian artists, was assigned a pavilion at the Venice Biennial. He studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo, and continued his studies in Rome and the University of Pennsylvania, where he attained a MFA in sculpture.
The artist’s latest exhibition includes works from the last 15 years, using different kinds of materials. The gallery claims that these works “have never been exhibited before”. The paintings feature different subjects, but what unites them is the artist’s use of bright colours. Most of the paintings have light backgrounds, with the subjects featured in one or two bright colours, while the rest of the painting remains neutral.
One painting that stood out was Big Flower, which is painted in oil and exhibits bright colours. The piece strikes a sense of lightness when viewing the painting, maybe due to the long-stemmed flower. Another painting was Cityscape, which has a strong use of the colour black. The heart of the painting is messy and dark, maybe suggesting the artist’s dislike of the city, especially since the outskirts seem lighter.
On the Faculty of Fine Arts website, the artist is quoted: “I am convinced that the functional presence of various materials in the craft or industrial product can only be matched by the metaphysical presence of such variation in the artwork.” Mainly, the artist believes that the use of different materials should be countered or highlighted by a strong subject, hence the material can echo in the subject itself. This artistic concept is what transpires in the collection of paintings at the exhibition.
Overall, despite the abstract nature of his paintings, the artist’s use of shapes and colours offers an interesting exhibition that is well worth a visit. The compositions are sometimes mesmerising, forcing you to stand and study them for some time. The exhibition will continue till 9 May at Al Masar Gallery in Zamalek.