Zamalek has always been an art hub. Between lauded showrooms in Zamalek Art Gallery and Safar Khan, and younger spaces such as Hanfaninha and Lot 17, art connoisseurs are no longer concerned with where to find art – although where to find good art remains quite an ordeal.
Studio 14 joined the new sprawl of art galleries last month, a multiple-room exhibition space situated on the ground floor of a building overlooking the Nile on Zamalek’s Montaza St.
The gallery exists alongside brand-new hip boutique Ghazl El-Banat, a joint store founded by the young fashionistas behind Horreya Designs. Studio 14 is run by young artist, and one of the Horreya founders, Dina Sabet, along with American artist and Cairo resident Patrick Row.
At the moment Sabet and Row fill in the gallery’s responsibilities interchangeably. But while their duties are not set-in-stone, they seem to be on the same page in so far as their responsibilities towards the selection of the artists, curating and publicity.
The gallery launched with a collection of paintings, photography and digital prints exhibited in three of the four rooms available, with additional pieces displayed on the walls of the corridor adjacent to the rooms on the inside of the gallery.
To the owner, the current function of the gallery is just a starting point, but is nowhere close to what she has in mind.
“I want it to be a gallery shop, not a just a showroom. I always wanted to have a space big enough for me to be able to sell artwork, prints, photography, art stationary and tools. I wanted to have a big library for people to come and spend their time there . a space to sell books, explained Sabet, pointing to internationally renowned Damien Hirst’s Gagosian gallery in London.
Targeting art collectors, Sabet plans to exhibit creative art that one would not necessarily use but would be eager to purchase; antique chairs, first edition books, and bizarre accessories, among others.
Come March, however, Studio 14’s exhibiting space will be limited to one showroom in addition to the corridor; a new boutique will be created in this space.
To Sabet, this is no setback.
“I plan to have enough galleries around town to be able to exhibit different forms of art, she said optimistically. “This [Studio 14] was a great opportunity to start.
The 23-year-old college senior set a long-term plan for expanding into the different neighborhoods in the city.
“I don’t want it to be a high-end gallery; I want art to be speaking to everyone out there, she added.
At Studio 14, the aim is to showcase different forms of art, irrespective of the artist’s age, according to Sabet. The gallery is not only focused on local talent but aims to present work by artists from around the world.
“I’ll look for artists whose work I like, ones that I would like to present and see that they have potential, she said.
But as is the case with many new art spaces in Cairo, the challenge lies in the ability to attract a crowd that will not only commend the artwork but will also dig into their pockets.
In that regard, Sabet seems confident. “If you have good artists, you get five-star hotels to buy their pieces, said the young entrepreneur, citing a strong database as key to attracting such crowds.
“Unfortunately, here in Egypt people appreciate film more than they appreciate fine arts, said Sabet, adding that the layout of the country is a reason why going to a gallery is never a Cairene’s choice of a night out.
With two more weeks set for the current show presenting works by Sabet, Row, Shahira Zaki and Salma El-Sayed, Studio 14 is currently accepting applications for potential artists, from whose sales the gallery will acquire 30 percent.
It’s always hard to predict the future of art galleries in Egypt; with ambitions as lofty as those of Studio 14, time and hard work will surely set it on the road to success.
Studio 14 Art Gallery14 Montaza St.,Ground FloorZamalek, Cairo11 am-9 pm