I was pondering the concept of intersection while I crossed Hassan Sabry Road to Gallery Misr. The idea has a double connotation: mathematical, and romantic. As an art lover, I was intrigued to see how the title might be curated. Opened last week, the exhibition gathers together work by ten artists from across the generations: sculptors Abdel-Hady El Wesahahy, Mohamed Radwan, and Khaled Zaki; as well as painters Ahmed Shiha, Nazli Madkour, Fathi Afifi, Essam Maarouf, Ibrahim El Dessouky, Mostafa Al Razaz and Reda Abdel Rahman. The sense of being at an aesthetic and even conceptual crossroads is evident as soon as you walk into the space.

Standing elegantly to the right is the Italy-based sculptor Khaled Zaki’s bronze depiction of a teenage girl looking up with passionate eyes, a depiction of adolescence as a stage that can occur at any point in one’s lifetime. Just facing it, in a blue dress, is the late Abdel-Hady El Weshahy’s fantastic sculpture on the same theme, The 17-Year-Old, standing proud and free with his hands around his tiny waist. A pretty obvious intersection here, but scattered on the wall are also  El Weshahy’s sketches in graphite or watercolor, peerless testimony to perfection.

Zaki’s Teenage, on the other hand, is accompanied by The Silent Mass, produced in 2012, which shows a still human figure in such a way as to make it look like a whale, reflecting the conflict between motion and stillness in an oblique take on revolution.  Zaki studied business administration at Cairo University before he decided to change career paths, working as an ancient Egyptian monument restorer. In 1988 he travelled to Italy to study sculpture. By the end of the 1990s he was back in Egypt, where he resumed his restoration work while launching his career as a sculptor, which he took up full-time in 2010.

Zaki believes “intersection” is a keyword in the “continuous process” that is his artistic career, which has consisted largely of arriving at and departing from crossroads. “In Italy, I was flooded by the amazing work of giant painters and sculptors including Fernando Botero. This was the strongest influence on my career as an artist. Egypt boasts a large number of amazing artists, but by comparison to modern art in Europe we still lag behind because of the lack of proper art criticism and philosophical controversies. As a society, we have stopped producing ideas, and this affects the development of art.”

Rania Khallaf finds out about the beauty of intersections,
Al - Ahram weekly Friday,13 March, 2015