CAIRO: If the oppressive heat and maddening crowds are leaving Cairo’s image a little worse for wear in your eyes, take a look through the lenses that made “For Love of Photography. This photo exhibition, open now at the Mualana Azad Centre for Indian Culture, could just have easily been named “For Love of Egypt. Each of the four exhibited photographers have instinctively zeroed in on the smallest, but most powerful aspects of beauty in this place.
The artists, Moustafa Al-Shershaby, Sayed Mahgoob, Ahmed Abdul Aziz, and Mona Abdul Karim, while each having their own unique approaches, shared the same general themes. Mostly focusing on Islamic Cairo and the coast of Alexandria, their photography styles vary from pensive portraits, exquisite architectural shots, to some photos that are almost dream like; the colors and lighting are so intense it’s hard to believe they’re real pictures.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Abdul Karim’s collection was a small cluster of blurred shots that at first glance seem to be explosions of color. Upon more careful examination, one can discern the twirling, flying skirts of a Sufi dancer. The color Abdul Karim captures in their frenzied motion feels beyond the bounds of reality. Abdul Karim says she was trying to prove that the art of photography can be just like that of painting.
“Any painter can catch such colors. And I can capture those colors with my camera, she explains.
Abdul Aziz’s strengths, meanwhile, are in his sunsets. His collection of shots along the coast of Alexandria is enchanting. The shots of red ocean sunsets and sun beam pierced clouds simply glow.
Also a master with colors is Sayed Mahgoob, who is known for his excellent night shots. Mahgoob does not disappoint, and in some shots his technique for the city skyline lights and reflecting moonlight gives his landscapes a fantasy quality. Part of the effect comes from the fact that many of the locations he chooses are familiar, making the effect of his art more surprising.
For sophisticated architectural shots, check Mahgoob’s exhibit neighbor, Al-Shershaby. The alignments of his shots complement the complex geometric beauty of Islamic art and architecture. His 40 years experience, since age 12, has not been a waste. And unique to his exhibit are shots of Islamic architecture from Rashid city. Al-Shershaby says that the delicate painted wooden architecture of this 17th century city is “unique to Egypt, and the whole world.
Touring her portion of the exhibit, Abdul Karim says she purposely avoids capturing entire buildings when she shoots Islamic Cairo. Her photos focus on anything from finely wrought door knobs, to the tops of minarets piercing a cloud speckled sky.
“Small things show the beauty, she says, “If you contemplate and meditate those small things, you see the real beauty.
Refresh and re-inspire your appreciation of Egypt, and photography, and check out “For Love of Photography.
The exhibit is open from August 13 to August 24, at the Mualana Azad Centre for Indian Culture, at 23 Talaat Harb.