Currently at Misr Gallery is Islam Zaher’s exhibit, “Pink & Lamentation.”
First off- I really like that title. The use of a very heavily stereotyped colour (“pink is girly/sexual/juvenile/etc.”) and a deeply melancholic word was quite intriguing. Sadly I can’t quite say the same about the entire exhibition.
Now there were a few gems in the collection of paintings & charcoal drawings exhibited. Upon entering, you’re met with the charcoal portraits, which are rather strong pieces that barely show any facial features; those, were furiously slashed by large strokes of charcoal. These were very successful pieces: they were adequately complex, without being exaggeratedly so.
Then you were met by the paintings and a hefty pink palette. The colour scheme is quite excellent, with pink and all its shades at the forefront, complemented by a huge array of colours all of which are pitch perfect in terms of tone & hue when paired with a solid range of Pink. The compositions as well as the brushstrokes heavily quote, if not directly recall, Francis Bacon with a touch of Lucian Freud and a pinch of Jenny Saville. One of my favourite things about this exhibition is how it managed to bring back all these great artists in a mature and studied manner.
Here comes the “however”, however. Some of the works feel a lot more studied and “felt” than others. The best pieces were the ones where the brushstrokes made up the entire body- it felt as thought the portrait was of a person in angst, made up of conflicting emotions and thoughts and judgements. The weaker ones were of bodies, interrupted by violent brushstrokes in their melting faces, or my least favourite, melting faces covered by broken Arabic calligraphy. These ones felt entirely out of place, and were the least strong of the entire collection. There was a certain homogeneity in the entire exhibition, but it felt like certain works were not so much thought out as they were after thoughts.
I’d recommend seeing the show- The expert colour palette alone makes the show worth seeing, and the good pieces in there are really good.