Mina Farouk is currently holding his first solo exhibit titled “Unloaded”, at Cala Gallery in Zamalek. An impressive number of pieces for a first timer, the work is surprisingly mature and solid. For the most part.
The pieces are essentially cut out silhouettes of black card on a white background. Much like etching but with paper cuts rather than engraving on linoleum, the pieces boast of loving maternal patience towards a stubborn child. Each image slowly steeps through the cracks and cuts, making for beautiful Art Nouveau inspired pieces.
What’s to be noted are Mina’s larger pieces, with floral motifs so gorgeous they elicit a slight gasp. His women are impossibly fit, beautifully adorned, ancient royalty. Awkwardly positioned, bodies curve and twist to accommodate their enveloping designs and create solid compositions. Floral, tribal and geometric designs are swiftly cut out of paper, making the task look impossibly easy when you know it took hours of meticulous scissor manoeuvring. The detail employed in the pieces is exquisite, with corners so tight that it’s wonder how they didn’t tear in the process of their making. The majority of the larger pieces are a joy to look at; a genuine break from the meaning-obsessed, aesthetically challenged work that’s been circulating lately.
A few sad things about the exhibit though- because it’s just too much to ask to have a good uninterrupted gallery experience in this country. There are smaller pieces that employed a lot of colour in them, and it’s almost tangible that these pieces were made in order to meet the gallery deadline, rather than to compliment the much more sound, larger pieces in the collection. The choice of colours is odd and clashing, with no harmony, rhyme or rhythm in any of them. Their cuts are more brash; thicker and clumsy, with none of the lace-like finesse that make the larger pieces and place Mina in a class of his own. One is flustered at what can be only be described as horrible colour choices and hasty execution of these smaller images.
What killed me was a piece depicting the Egyptian flag with a donkey replacing the eagle in the middle. Really? Why, for God’s sake? Haven’t we suffered enough to be slapped by such a monstrously eye-roll worthy cliché amidst some seriously inspiring work? I believe that one is the curator/gallery’s fault, because if the young, first timer artist gets a little too excited, its the role of the curator to calm him down, kindly steering him safely away from resoundingly awful ‘statement’ pieces.
Yet clearly, the gallery has its own issues. The poster and the invite were horrendous, killing the exhibit before anyone showed up. No bigger shame can be expressed when such a lovely gallery space with a great location, great walls, smooth flow and solid lighting can have such bad supervision on its media. Too many colours and font pepper the poster and invitation, amateur and poorly edited writing in the artist’s bio (for some reason printed on the invite) and the biggest mistake: reversed artwork. No artwork, no matter how young, unknown or bad, deserves to be reversed into its mirror image to fit a layout. You do that to people you dislike- as one would draw a moustache or bunny ears on a bride’s wedding photo. It’s that kind of rookie cruel.
Mina should have created his own invite, because judging by the talent he displayed in most of the work in the collection, he would’ve made something so intriguing it would be crazy not to go visit. Sadly, it seems as though, like most young art exhibits and artists these days, it all started with a lot of strength and bang, and ended with a rush against deadlines and a general fizzle. Regardless, this is a show not to be missed, if only for those who like it to badger Mina into making more of his better pieces for us to enjoy.