A different kind of Darwish takes the spotlight in Egypt
The media tells stories of social and political struggles: what happens, who is involved, and what comes of it. Wael Darwish's exhibition, which opened on 7 November at the Safarkhan Art Gallery, tells these stories too, using several layers of paint and photography collage to portray the deep, often neglected, human emotions that manifest in parallel to unfolding social and political events.
The paintings, full of vibrant colours, give a sense of happiness as one walks through the exhibition. Everything is bright, and calm emotions come over the viewer. However, as you take a deeper look, you get a glimpse of darkness, new shapes, and different figures.
"It's exactly like our lives," Wael Darwish said. "There is hope and colour in the process, but each person has a collection of secrets and things that they are hiding."
Despite the similarity in palette, each artwork is very unique. According to the artist, the paintings were created as separate works, and each colour, brush stroke and photograph has a meaning and intention behind it.
"I mix our social relationships, my thought processes and the representation of a dream that is complete, on its way to be completed or incomplete," he told Ahram Online.
The painting above is quite revolution-driven, but that is not the main thread of the exhibition. The artist adds chairs, policemen and darker shapes and colours to portray his own feelings on the uprising. Like many other artists, recent events have affected Darwish, and found their way into his work, whether it was intentional or not.
"Well if all of this is happening, I can't exactly be painting flowers," Darwish joked.
The paintings portray the artist's own experience during recent events, from his own perspective and from that of others, and the complex layers of emotions that come with it. He uses several technical artistic touches to express these emotions, while giving viewers the chance to let the art work speak and use it to reflect on their own emotions.
"The lines of the paintings keep moving, representing a lack of stability and refers to the future that is unclear," Darwish said. "This is very similar to when anyone is asked about how they feel regarding the events or what will happen in the future, and the reply is always 'I don't know', no one can really find something tangible to hold on to," he explained.
The artist uses some recurring motifs in the paintings, such as locks and books which represent figures that will never be spoken of.
Born in 1975, Darwish uses mixed media to dive into themes such as identity, emotion, gender and freedom. The artist's body of work also includes installation and video art. Darwish has had his work exhibited in multiple venues in Egypt and abroad, and holds a PhD in contemporary painting philosophy.
'Vivid Memory' is ongoing until 30 November.
6 Brazil Street, Zamalek, Cairo
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday, 10am - 9pm