Recently, there has been a lot of focus on Egypt due to the political events taking place in the country. One side-effect has been a rise in nationalistic sentiments and nostalgia for a time when the Egyptians were more united. Egypt’s political struggle has struck some as a loss of identity and a signal of moving away from traditions. From this standpoint, artist Farid Fadel chose to highlight the pillars of Egyptian culture in his new exhibition.
Fadel’s paintings range from scenes taken from local markets to scenes of pious Egyptians praying in churches to scenes of fishermen reeling in their nets. He also paints portraits of Egyptians from Alexandria, Nuba, Cairo and Upper Egypt.
“There is something quite special about Egypt, a sort of mystery one cannot fathom,” Fadel wrote in an essay printed in the exhibition brochure. “You live here for a while, you settle down, act and interact, it drives you crazy, you leave, you miss it, you come back and embrace it, you love it and you hate it. I cannot think of many places on earth that can stir up such a paradox of feelings.”
Egypt’s geographical location gives it many benefits and distinguishes it internationally, he wrote. The main goal of his collection is to highlight the possible unity and the national pride that could emerge from the homeland. One of the first paintings that you see when entering is that of several smiling children from different ethnic backgrounds huddled together.
“It would take volumes to explain why Egypt is the way it is, but my aim here is to better understand how we may capitalise on our intangible resources, get our act together, and walk hand in hand towards a brighter future,” Fadel wrote.
Fadel was also inspired by recent political events.
“In the last three years, Egypt has witnessed two major revolutions, but the question is: Do revolutions go wrong?” he wrote. “Are they only successful when people topple a regime or can they turn things around in some other way? I believe there are no simple answers to date, but surely time will tell, for only what is true will stand the test of time. I am still optimistic as I read the words of the Bible ‘Blessed are my people, Egypt’ and ‘Out of Egypt have I called my Son.’”
The exhibition continues until 14 March at Picasso Art Gallery in Zamalek.