Egyptian art advice connects the ancient with the contemporary

Later this month, the Acropolis Museum and The Lemon Tree & Co. Athens-Riviera will host a unique exhibition called „A Tale of Two Cities”. The first half of the exhibition, which runs until July 16, highlights the millennia-old historical and cultural links between Athens and the Egyptian city of Alexandria, while the second half of the exhibition will be held at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the Greco-Roman Museum. October.

Equally historic and contemporary, the exhibition is typical of its organizer, the French Egyptian curator and art consultant Nadine Abdel Ghaffar. Almost 10 years ago, Ghaffar founded the art consultancy Art D’Egypte to solve a problem: contemporary Egyptian art has long struggled to gain international recognition, such as its historical artifacts and monumental archaeological landmarks. Rather than trying to escape history, Gaffar decided to merge with it, creating high-profile exhibitions that leverage iconic sites such as the Great Pyramids of Giza as a backdrop to create a dialogue between the historical and the contemporary.

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„The whole idea is to get away from the white cube and get meaningful pairings with heritage or where we are,” Gaffer said. ARTnews. „It’s a cultural platform. I think you can’t separate heritage from art, from music, from theatre, from cinema, from design. It’s all intertwined.

Art D’Egypte’s most notable series is the ongoing exhibition „Forever Is Now”, which held its third edition last November. Held on the Giza Plateau, the exhibition featured large-scale sculptures and installations by 14 artists, many of whom drew inspiration from the site. For example, the works of Saudi Arabian artist Rashed Al Shashai have appeared in several editions of the 2021 Daria Biennale and the Noor Riyadh Light Festival, where he created a site-specific installation, translucent pyramid, The 20-foot-tall pyramid was constructed of wicker boxes. Egyptian artist Mohamed Banawi, meanwhile, contributed Above, far below (the dome of the starry sky)An installation of 30-foot-tall starfish-shaped sculptures mounted on shafts represent ancient Egyptian text.

of Muhammad Banawi Above, far below (the dome of the starry sky), At the „Forever is Now” exhibition in Giza, Egypt.

Courtesy of CulturVator

In 2022 Ghafar launched CulturVator as an evolution of Art d’Egypt. While Art D’Égypte focuses on local art, the larger brand CulturVator focuses on a wider cultural scope that includes art, cinema, fashion and international projects, „A Tale of Two Cities”. The exhibition will feature seven artists at the Acropolis Museum and five at the Lemon Tree restaurant in Athens. The Acropolis Museum will exhibit three Greek artists and four Egyptian artists, primarily from Alexandria. Meanwhile, Lemon Tree, with an iconic sister restaurant in Egypt, will exclusively display works by Egyptian artists. The line-up includes notable names such as Kostas Varotsos, Danae Strato, Omar Toussoun, Said Badr and Karim El Hayawan.

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„As a Greek artist, I see this exhibition as a creative dialogue between two ancient centers of culture and knowledge,” said Dionysios Ka, who appeared in „Forever is Now” last November and will appear in the upcoming exhibition. ARTnews. „By connecting these two cities, Nadine manages to reunite the rich historical ties – celebrating the intertwined stories and inviting visitors to reflect on the enduring heritage of these vibrant cities.”

At the heart of CulturVator’s work is a deep respect for history and its preservation. For „Forever is Now,” a 50-centimeter-thick bed of sand was laid on the Giza site before any artwork was placed on it. For the 2017 exhibition “Eternal Light: Something Old, Something New” at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Ghaffer juxtaposed a dozen contemporary artworks with the museum’s ancient artifacts to reveal their connections. He collaborated with Assa Fahmy Jewelery to build a bespoke safe to display the jewels of 19th-century Egyptian leader Muhammad Ali Pasha and his daughter. CulturVator/Art D’Égypte and its outreach are also working under the auspices of UNESCO to „preserve and promote the diversity of cultural expression”.

An installation shot from Culturevator’s “If Walls Could Talk” exhibition at Salah el-Din Citadel, one of the city’s most famous landmarks.

Courtesy of CulturVator

The task of preserving cultural heritage is crucial as urban development threatens historical sites. In recent years, Cairo’s rapid transformation has led to many ancient tombs, tombs and other historical landmarks being leveled for new developments and roadways. For example, since 2020, the Egyptian government has gradually demolished the historic City of the Dead, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Those efforts have continued Last year. Meanwhile, in January, the government demolished Torp 1718, an iconic contemporary art center in the Fustad neighborhood, to make way for an elevated highway. The neighborhood, which has since been demolished, was known as Cairo’s last traditional artisan home.

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„You don’t live for yourself,” said Ghafar, who was raised with a community-centered mindset from an early age. „You are in the universe to do things for other people.”

Through Art D’Egypte and CulturVator, Ghaffar has worked to create a healthy ecosystem, employing hundreds of workers to create exhibits and horse and carriage drivers to guide visitors on art tours. According to Ghafar, the organization’s mission to promote Egypt led such workers to take pride in their contributions to the exhibition, befriend the exhibiting artists, and learn the stories of the artworks to teach to visitors. This community-first ethos is best expressed by CulturVator’s exhibitions opening with a public opening; Private VIP events will follow at a later date.

Ghaffar’s initiatives promote arts-focused tourism and attract international visitors who specifically attend the events he organizes. More than a thousand VIPs traveled to see his “Forever is Now” exhibition, the organization said.

said Mohammed Awad, architectural historian and consultant to Bibliotheca Alexandrina. ARTnews „The actress’s cultural expressions bring Egyptian art to our contemporary culture. Motto: Proud to be Egyptian.”

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