Currently at Picasso Art Gallery in Zamalek is an exhibition titled “Gamal Abdel Nasser…The Dream.” The show’s title is pretty much what it’s about, the Leader Gamal Abdel Nasser and what he represented at the time: Hope, Strength & the Dignity of the Egyptian.
Now I don’t like Abdel Nasser nor what he stood for. If I’d assume he was well-intentioned, I’d still think he did more damage than good to the country. I believe that most of the issues and catastrophes that we deal with in Egypt today are the ultimate results of his decisions. Obviously, the effect of his decisions were further aggravated by being left notoriously unattended by the audacity of our corrupted (ex?) government for the last 30 years.
Having said that, there’s no denying that he was quite the magnetic leader. Love him or hate him, he had a distinct aura about him: a deeply revered man who appeared fairly approachable. His pride and strength showed in his facial features (the rectangular jaw line, large furrowed forehead, bulbous hawkish nose, broad smile and that infamous profile), yet he looked like your average Egyptian dad.
The show at Picasso presents a myriad of portraits of Abdel Nasser, by prolific artists ranging from Sabry Ragheb, Hamed Oweiss to Helmy El Touny and Gamal Al Sagini. All those in between are just as excellent. If Abdel Nasser isn’t your idea of good viewing, the paintings depicting the proletarians and their strife will definitely please you. The collection boasts some serious painterly qualities: excellent compositions, beautiful colour palettes, a range of styles from Abd El Aal to Bahgoury, all of which depict the former charismatic president. Most importantly, they boast a genuine belief in the man they present.
The exhibition makes you long for a leader that you’d die for (do people still do that?), or at least, one that can carry himself/herself with the pride, elegance and power of the person who would head a country that has the potential to be the best in the world. Right now it seems we’d settle for anyone (anyone not from a military background please, not again) who we don’t hate. A little like our current situation with dating and marriage, really.
Go see this show and think of whom you’d want to lead your country. Then- because this is a marriage that may outlast most marriages you know- make sure not to settle for anyone less.