Fewer things are more frustrating than good work and solid efforts being let down by incompetence and bad management. Any professional- no, any average layman- living in Egypt knows this all too well. Creative people in particular suffer doubly, as it takes sweat, blood and tears to create good work for someone to just come across and knock the wind out of it by being particularly negligent.
I personally suffer this problem when trying to cover shows, especially in younger or newer galleries who don’t quite understand the importance of coverage. Any coverage- anyone writing about your artists’ work, whether it’s good or bad- is better than no coverage at all. So as an art coordinator or gallery manager or whatever title you’d be given to stand in a gallery and warmly welcome visitors, you must be rather efficient in sending images to anyone who wants them for coverage. Some may need to verify the journalist- make sure they’re not frauds- but otherwise, you better get on that, quick.
Art lounge in Zamalek were more than unhelpful in that department this week. I went to their current show “The remains of old albums” by Nazir Tanbouli, and I really enjoyed the exhibit. After explaining who I was, they promised to send images, didn’t, and continued to fail to do so after several phone calls. They failed their artist, because otherwise I’d have some pretty lovely images of his work to show you all and excite you to see his exhibit, instead of these amateur photos I’ve photographed off his catalogue.
Well then, unto the artwork. Art Lounge may not have been on top of their game, but Tanbouli certainly was. His watercolours were very well layered and absolutely charming. Inspired by family photo albums he has randomly collected over 20 years, Tanbouli created these mostly huddled compositions of families posing for photographs. All the paintings seem to be of seemingly happy people who want to appear their best for a memory, and their smiles- sometimes genuine, sometimes forced- feature in every painting.
His strongest pieces were ones that had an incredible intensity in watercolour- versus the rest of the exhibit which were more washed and translucent in feel. The stronger palettes felt more purposeful and fantastical, as though Nazir personally took the photograph himself, adding his own personal feel and whimsy to it. I felt more of the artist’s style in those strong coloured pieces than I did in the rest of the softer woks (I’d show you, BUT THE GALLERY REFUSED TO SEND ME HIS IMAGES).
In general though, the exhibit is truly fun. There is an entire wall of single, tiny portraits, all of which are interesting studies in gestural water colouring. The larger pieces displayed a lot of control with a rather difficult medium (most people wrongfully assume that watercolour is the easiest form of painting, which is absolutely incorrect; it is in fact, the hardest). Nazir El Tanbouli’s work is definitely worth seeing: the simplicity of the idea behind the show will bring a smile to your heart, and its execution, a pleasurable experience.