Farida El Gazzar
G L O R Y
21 January - 20 February 2016
Kalfayan Galleries (11 Haritos Street, Kolonaki, Athens) present the solo show of the Greek-Egyptian artist Farida El Gazzar titled GLORY. The opening will be held on Thursday, 21 January 2016, 20.00 – 22.00.
The works featured in the solo show of Farida El Gazzar are a visual journal in which the artist attempts to convey the sublime character of her birthplace, Alexandria, where Greek and Egyptian cultures have co-existed for centuries. It is a special journal in which personal memories, family photographs and photographs taken of her trips to Alexandria are imprinted on paper from a clearly idiosyncratic point of view. With bold colors or with monochromatic pencil drawings, Farida El Gazzar traces the charm of the past, the beauty that is concealed in scenes of everyday life, in human interaction, in the partial details of an image that are captured by the camera lens or through memory.
Through a multifaceted and often painstaking process merging the past with the present, reality with the ideal image of the city, and driven by an inner need to preserve cultural aspects that are fading, Farida El Gazzar pays homage to the features which, for her, shape the contemporary identity not only of Alexandria but of Egypt as well. The transformation of the landscape through successive rows of uniform red brick building complexes, the details of a plant in her grandmother's apartment, a policeman standing guard at a hotel, four small trees in a park that are painted with the colors of the Egyptian flag after the fall of Mubarak's regime, details of antique furniture in her aunt's home, the Art Deco entrance of a house where a friend of hers lives, these are some of the “banal”, as she describes them, elements and objects that catch her attention and become the protagonists in her works.
Aside from the interlacing of collective and personal memory, the artist examines social and cultural identity through the multifaceted architectural character of the city. In the “Vitrines” series, particular emphasis is given to the window displays of old shops – such as those selling clothing or shoes – in the center of the city. In an urban landscape that is constantly changing, these small shops survive, preserving their special character. This idea of “resistance” is found throughout the work of Farida El Gazzar. A different portrayal of the meaning of timelessness is present in the paintings and gold, which she uses successfully in order to emphasize the earth colors of the landscape, the light, dust and sand. At the same time, gold is used allegorically to symbolize power and glory, with which El Gazzar clothes the landscapes and scenes of daily life in the cities. There is also a strong element of kitsch. Often, with a strong sense of irony, the artist lends a monumental character to common small objects by depicting them outside of their natural environment, against a gold background.
The portrait of urban life that is depicted in the works of Farida El Gazzar, with a particular commitment as an alter ego, is at the same time an x-ray of the human condition where solemnity goes hand in hand with lightness and glory co-exists with kitsch.
Farida El Gazzar (b. 1975, Alexandria, Egypt) lives and works in Athens, Greece. She studied in London at the Royal College of Art (1998-2000) and Kingston University (1996-1998), and is also a graduate of the Vakalo School of Art and Design in Athens, Greece (1993-1996). From 2003 to 2007, she was co-founder of the creative team WARDA. Her ongoing relationship with the MENASA region is a result of her early years in Alexandria and Kuwait and has been realized through her residencies and research in Cairo and Manama, Bahrain. Selected exhibitions include: "Dream City", Gypsum Gallery, Cairo (2015); "Arabic Without a Teacher", Kerameikos, Athens "Alexandria Vitrines", Liana Vourakis, Athens (2013); "Arabic Without A Teacher", Kerameikos, Athens, "Ofthalmofanes", Technopolis, Athens (all 2010); "Rehang" a parallel event to the 11th International Istanbul Biennial, Grand Hotel De Londres, Istanbul; "Thirty Posters on Migration", IMEPO (Hellenic Migration Policy Institute), Syntagma Metro Station, Athens; "The Ultimate Experience" (curators: William Wells and Mayssa Fatouh), Al Riwaq Gallery, Bahrain (all 2009). Farida El Gazzar is represented by Kalfayan Galleries, Athens-Thessaloniki.