- Life Style
Upon entering Unloaded, Mina Farouk’s first solo exhibition, one is instantly drawn into the artist’s world. The intricate patterns of the 34 pieces on display at the recently opened Cala Art Gallery show endless forms that constantly change depending on where one stands.
What might first look like dozens of leaves, soon morphs into Fabergé eggs, female bodies, chrysanthemums, and religious symbols. There’s a very fractal-like aspect to the works, most of which were created by taking a black card and slicing off hundreds of tiny intricate shapes, using negative space to reveal countless forms, images and symbols that culminate in the overall piece. The result is both very visually appealing and thought provoking, encouraging more than one tour around the gallery.
And while instantly encapsulating the interconnectedness of reality and nature, the use of negative space gives the pieces a further yin-yang sort of depth.
“I wanted to explore nature and the interconnectedness of God’s creation, who is obviously the greatest artist of them all,” says Farouk with a laugh. “I was also going through a lot of pain at the time, so cutting away at the black was also as if I was getting rid of the bad energy inside me.”
But he quickly states that the pieces are now there for audiences to explore their own imaginations and visions.
Interestingly, the negative space idea initially came about with no intention of hosting an exhibit; it was simply inspired by moving into a studio that had no curtains.
“At first I created a few cutouts to block out the light that I didn’t want, and then I just kept doing it, and doing it, almost obsessively until I had dozens of the [black] things,” he says.
The pieces were also mostly created in a kind of stream of conscious, a technique Farouk picked up while attending art therapy sessions in earlier years.
According to Farouk, the therapist would insist that he be completely thoughtless during his session, and not interfere with what would come naturally, “not trying to make it into my idea of perfect, but letting it be perfectly me.” He has since adopted this methodology in his own artwork.
But not all of the pieces are completely intricate, intertwined, black and white, and produced through the stream of conscious. Several are quite simple, and use layers of cutout sheets in a few colors to create new forms. These types seem to be more conscious in their use of symbolism to express an idea.
One piece in particular is an Egyptian flag, but instead of an eagle, there is a massive black donkey in front of a fence in the middle. When asked how this was an exploration of infinity, Mina laughs and explains: “No that one was conscious,” he says. “Egyptians love to pretend that they are that eagle, strong, powerful … but that eagle flew away a long time ago. The donkey is more fitting, it likes a master but kicks back every now and then.”
Still, the draw to this exhibition is certainly the massive intricate pieces that allow you to explore both the painting and your own thought process, something Farouk reminds me about when I tell him one of the pieces blatantly looks from afar like a massive, naked, seductive woman looking back over her shoulder. Though he quickly admits that it is certainly there.
When asked why the exhibit is called “Unloaded”, he replies: “Well in a way I see that I have unloaded all that has been standing in my way — my way to truly discovering who I am and accepting it.”
Unloaded can be seen until 11 October at Cala Art Gallery, 140 26th July St., Zamalek, Cairo.