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Safarkhan Cairo
Safarkhan Gouna 
Sherwet Shafei, the renowned art dealer of Safarkhan was born in 1931 in Cairo. Educated in French and English schools, she graduated with Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Cairo University in 1956. She held several posts with the Information Department, Egyptian Radio, Rosa El Youssef magazine and in 1960 she was among the first employees of the Egyptian Television. 

Her love of art began with the years when she was assigned by the ETV to produce a weekly program about Modern Egyptian Art. From that date she fell in love with art and was able after a short time from creating the program and directing it to decipher the beauty and the language of art. She was responsible for producing a weekly program called “ Gawlet El Fenoun” and “ Maa El Fann” for twenty five years. Her exposure to the different schools of art and her close personal contact of the most prominent Egyptian artists as Mahmoud Said, Ragheb Ayad, Youssef Kamel, Hamed Nada, Seif Wanly and Effat Naghi enabled her to strengthen and deepen her knowledge and appreciation of Egyptian art. Besides her producing of a weekly program specialized in Art, Shafei was entitled to more assignments in E.T.V. and became Head of the Second Channel. Soon she established the Channel 2 as the source for art and culture. Shafei’s exposure to Art was not limited to the local scene for she covered several artistic international events like the Biennale of Venice and other regional Bienalies. She also gave several lectures on Modern Egyptian Art compiled from her programes in Paris and Lyon.
Through her work in the Egyptian Television, Shafei was able to propagate the importance and beauty of an art that was not very common with the average beholder. Gradually and through exposing weekly the artistic activities in several cities in Egypt like Cairo and Alexandria, art appreciation began to be extended to several generations and classes of society. Hence with time art collectors grew in number and a new generation of art lovers began.

Shafei began collecting art works in the early eighties whenever her budget permitted her. Gradually her collection grew and with the years became one of the best in Egypt. Her collection includes the most renowned Egyptian painters as Mahmoud Said , Mohamed Naghi, Ragheb Ayad, Youssef Kamel, Effat Naghi, Hamed Abdallah, Hedayet, Taheya Halim, El Hussein Fawzi, Nahmeya Saad, Ahmed Sabry etc…

At the age of retirement Shafei decided to continue working in the field of art as an art dealer after owning the Safarkhan Gallery in Zamalek, Cairo.Her relationship with this gallery goes back to the seventies when she was a close friend of the owner at that time ‘Roxane Petrides’ who established it as an antique shop specializing mainly in Islamic Art, wood, pottery and textile. Shafei helped her friend -who lately she became partner with- to expose art works on the walls besides the antique Islamic works. Hence, in the eighties Shafei arranged major exhibitions of the renowned Egyptian artists like Ragheb Ayad, Hamed Nada and some of the younger generations.

Shafei’s policy in Safarkhan was concentrated at the beginning in introducing to her clienteles a history of Modern Egyptian Art. So she began by collecting the works of the pioneers. This was not an easy task since it is hard to get hold of a number of works that can permit holding a proper exhibition and especially in the absence of those great names. Her perseverance in continuing in this domain was an important factor in creating new collectors of Egyptian art. The feedback of her work was quick and positive and she continued searching for new names of artists who had a real impact in the arena of art. This led her to discover the names and great talents of foreign artists who came to Egypt at the turn of the century and were attracted by its great history and decided to stay and discover the beauty of this land. Among them we can recall Beppi Martin (who was a French Artist  that came with Forcella from Italy) Bissey, Camillo, Innocenti, Angelopolo, Roger Breval, Joseph Bonnellio…etc. These were considered among the early Orientals who depicted the beauty, culture and wealth of Egypt.
Shafei also was able to introduce the great Aremenian artist Ervand Demerdjian who fled from the Turkish oppression in 1896 and came to Egypt for shelter with the first group of Armenian refugees who fled social and political disturbances in Ottoman Turkey. Dimirdjian is considered one of the greatest artists who depicted Egyptian life in the beginning of the 20th century and most of his work is either of landscapes, Nilotic and Cairean scenes or portraits of different Egyptian individuals of the humble class.

During her work in Safarkhan, Shafei was interested in the literature of the different artists. Among one of the most important exhibitions was that of sculptor and painter Salah Abdel Karim ( 1925-1988) in which a book about Abdel Karim was introduced along side with his sculptures, paintings and drawings. To commemorate the several exhibitions where books were introduced we should mention exhibitions for artists Ervand Demerdjian and Anna Boghigiuan. Also another very important book was introduced in Safarkhan was that of the late art critic Aime Azar, published in 1960 and became a rarity because it was all sold out. This book “La Peinture Moderne en Egypte” is one of the best references about the history of modern Egyptian art. It explains the different schools of art that were founded before the beginning of the school of Egyptian art in 1907 founded by Prince Youssef Kamal.

The work in Safarkhan gallery was extended by Shafei on different scales. On one hand there are eight to ten exhibitions held yearly for local and some forgein artists. Plus a yearly comprehensive exhibition under the title of “The Collection” which includes a variety from all of the year’s exhibitions . This exhibition is a summary of all the calendar year’s work and extends for three months before the beginning of a new season.

Another element of Safarkhan concentrates on offering a comprehensive and unique collection of art works of the pioneers to the collectors and admirers of art to choose what they love.
And since art has become an investment, a good piece is always in demand.
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