Mar 10–Apr 9, 2015
|Address:||8 El Kamel Mohamed Street, Zamalek|
HAZEM EL MESTIKAWY
10 MARCH - 9 APRIL 2015
ArtTalks Gallery is proud to announce Juxtaposition, Hazem El Mestikawy's first solo exhibition in Egypt in five years.
In his sculptural installations and wall objects, Vienna-based Egyptian visual artist Hazem El Mestikawy seeks to create minimalist work in reduced forms yet rich in layers of meaning. His unique act of juxtaposing, overlapping and locking or glueing different modules made of cardboard and paper, creates technically elaborate and thematically engaging works. With flawless precision and a geometric complexity, El Mestikawy creates infinite, abstract and pure patterns from symmetrically repeating letters, numbers or shapes. Visibly architectural, his creations use a variety of inspirations from his heritage such as the most fundamental principle of Sufism - unity in multiplicity. The notion of meditative process, repetition and time, as also found in Islamic art and architecture and ancient Egyptian art, is his constant guiding spirit.
Because they are made out of recycled cardboard, paper and newspaper, his objects may look simple and fragile at first. Yet each structure belies meticulous construction and a complex process based on physics and mathematics to achieve a solid and impenetrable outcome. Demonstrating the significance of the scientific process he invented and mastered, Hazem El Mestikawy takes conventional sculpture to a level difficult to imitate. His signature media of cardboard and paper provides a mental platform for viewing from either of two perspectives, strong or light, massive or fragile, masculine or feminine, divine or human. This coexistence or duality is particularly tangible in the two series displayed in Hazem El Mestikawy’s first solo exhibition Juxtaposition at ArtTalks Gallery.
In the first series, El Mestikawy explores the key highlights of the 2011 Egyptian revolution. In ‘18 Days’, the artist refers to the number of days the protests lasted in Tahrir Square, from the day the revolution erupted until the day Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign, symbolized in the 18 units that create a dome or the square. In ‘White’, El Mestikawy choses the date of Mubarak’s resignation on February 11, 2011, playing with the numbers where coincidentally, the year 2011 can be read backward as 1102. Finally, ‘Al Horriya Panel 4’ and ‘Behind The Back’ reference one of the three demands that stirred the 2011 revolution – Freedom.
In his second series inspired by the Islamic tradition of calligraphy, the works ‘I Am The Other’, ‘Aequalis’, ‘Viewpoint’ and ‘La #3’ are a continuation of his exploration of the importance and meaning of letters. With 2 or 3 Arabic letters, El Mestikawy playfully deals with identity and gender. Ana (I) / howa (He) / heya (She) / Hor (Free masculine) / Hora (Free feminine) represent a contemporary and minimal calligraphy he has created over the years, rooted in history, to provide a continuity from past to present and a debate on where to go from here. El Mestikawy gives the viewer an opportunity for contemplation and reflection that ultimately everything should fit together in the end.
Hazem El Mestikawy was born in Egypt in 1965. He lives and works between Vienna, Austria and Cairo, Egypt. His installation, Nine A Letters, was acquired by the North Carolina Museum of Art. His work, Patent Pattern, won the grand prize at the thirteenth Asia Art Biennale in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2008. In 2011, El Mestikawy was shortlisted in the prestigious Jameel Art Prize, launched by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition. Finally, in 2014-15, El Mestikawy’s Alif Beh installation has been acquired and is now part of the collection of the under-construction Jameel Museum in Dubai, UAE.