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Safarakhan ispleased to announce the upcoming exhibition for acclaimed international contemporaryartist, Mohamed Abla, from February 23rd to March 16th.  Sherwet Shafei describes this collection as awelcome foray from Abla into still life painting, a marked departure from histypical depictions of urban life and human subjects. “The most impressive thingAbla has done this time is his veneration of something so beautiful that isendemic to Egypt, the varieties of flowering cacti. Abla captures the essenceof his affinity to them, and their polarity, being so beautiful yet harsh, andespecially the flowering varieties which only give birth to a flower that isfleeting and lasts for precious little time before it disappears.” Thismetaphorical beauty is what constitutes the essence of Abla’s inspirationherein, the concept of duality in nature and how certain elements of it canserve as allegorical representations of our own human nature in such accurateand poignant ways. For Abla the cactus is a symbol of the cycle of life, “anamazing combination of cruelty and tenderness in its diversity of form.” Theirthorns represent a barrier between them and the outside world, and theirflowers the miracle of birth, rebirth and the bounty of creation.

Thisrepresentation of the duality between attraction and trepidation or beauty anddanger inspired Abla to employ his impressionist’s palette to bring these cactito life on the canvas. He makes us feel they are alive by depicting them in aperfect blend of realism and imaginative reconstruction, combining theirnatural real world qualities with his own recreation of their appearances,superimposed on dreamy backdrops. Some instances appear as though Abla hascreated inverse coloring between the bodies of the cacti and their flowers,this unconventional appearance offers an ethereal quality that also stillretains realism and dynamism, as there is much movement created from hisstreaky brushstrokes and vibrant bouquets of cacti in intense conversation withother plants and flowers surrounding them, as though they are alive andwelcoming us.

Aside fromhis depictions of plant life, the secondary theme of this collection exploresthe comforts of his familial life inside their home. Here Abla returns to thestyle he built his recognition on, capturing candid moments of cozy andintimate family life in his Fayoum home, which also doubles as his studio. Wesee snapshots of these living spaces animated by angelic beings and of courseactual cacti, which he has presumably adopted as new furnishings for hisresidence, owing to his newfound infatuation with their intrinsic duality andbeauty.

Abla hasenjoyed international recognition since graduating from the Faculty of FineArts of Alexandria in 1977, teaching art in Sweden and Austria before servingin the same capacity at Cairo’s AUC. He now operates an arts and crafts schoolin his native Fayoum, where he offers workshops on pottery, caricaturing andpainting.

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