Dr. Hussein El-Ezaby takes a sharp turn towards culture with his new yet not-so-dark philosophy of art. We’ve seen paintings of all shapes and sizes but we have never tried to deeply observe a painting in the dark. El- Ezaby explores Egypt through a light and color show that extrapolates the meaning of everyday life for Egyptians. Meet Egyptian culture as it blossoms in the dark!
Architect by profession yet artist to the core Dr. Hussein El-Ezaby, coming from Sayeda Zeinab has seen many things on Cairo’s streets. He’s seen everything from cats to kiosks and tasted the bitter sweet Turkish coffee. Outside of Cairo, he’s traveled from the shore to shore, from one end of the Nile Valley to the other to experience what many others have never seen. Not even a photograph from National Geographic can capture the essence of culture.
From that experience, comes a series of works which captures the Egyptian spirit glowing in the dark. It a series of works which reveals the colorful world behind Nubian men and women, the stunning reality behind the Baharis (meaning near the sea), the ruhani algorithms used by whirling dervishes, and the capstone of them all is the Tahrir Square piece.
We start with the beginning and as all beginnings start, we come to the centerpiece of El-Ezaby’s exhibition. Tahrir Square is more than just a place for many people, it’s a symbol. Many have made sacrifices to fight for what they believe and in some cases they pay the ultimate price. For this reason, El-Ezaby used three pyramid shaped displays to capture the spirit of the revolution using of a combination of colored nails and wood. All three pieces come together to form the Great Pyramids of Giza.
It’s a solute to the men and women who have laid down there lives for the sake of freedom. It’s a vocal conversation of free spirits. Equally liberating for the spirits is the rich tradition embedded in Egypt's faith systems. Spirituality has become a universal phenomenon shared among people of many faiths who have long sought to seek a deeper connection with the divine. In Egypt, such a complex concept could not be more colorfully pronounced as with the country’s tanoura dancers, a more native mutant to the original Mevlevi dervishes.
“One of the dancers told me that he could whirl for up to six hours,” said El-Ezaby. “It’s through his connection to God in that state which enables him to physically endure the effects of the whirling.” Forgotten in everyday culture but very much alive in El-Ezaby’s art works, Nubian overtones are of paramount importance in his exhibition. Nubia in his eyes is the very essence of Egyptian culture. Don’t think of Mohammed Monir or others. Think clothes. Think colors. Think most importantly culture. El Ezaby paints a rather down to earth picture of the Nubian, Egyptians who simply live life for the sake of living like many others.
Travelling up north, Mediterranean culture creeps into local Egyptian overtones to form its own unique subculture found around the Delta and Alexandria. Everything varies from their philosophy to even the smallest detail of their gait. Some would say that Egypt gave birth to the world and that in the womb of the country lies the key to civilization. Yet, Egypt holds a much greater status in front of the world. Egypt defines for us what a civilization is. In essence, these are the deeper questions we are forced to ask ourselves when seeing El- Ezaby’s exhibition.
Photography by Mo Ezaby