Barca's Messi sees red as Bilbao claim Super Cup glory    Egypt detects 890 new coronavirus cases; 56 fatalities on Sunday    Juve's title run at risk following 2-0 loss at Inter Milan    Egypt's general intelligence chief delivers Sisi's message to Palestinian president    Egypt's new Aflemha Online Film Festival will celebrate women filmmakers    State revenues will likely fall by EGP 150 bln in FY 2020/21 on Covid-19    Orascom-Siemens-Arab Contractors consortium signs MoU to build high-speed rail system    Gut bacteria tied to Covid-19 severity    Egypt receives 19 rail carriages from Russia under mega deal    Transmar succeeded in promoting trade, doubling reefer container shipping    World Bank provides $200m loan to Egypt for air quality monitoring projects    Egypt detects 887 new coronavirus cases; 54 fatalities on Saturday    CBE offers EGP 16bn T-bills on Sunday    Tennis: Australian Open arrivals hit by 4 COVID-19 positive tests    Facebook to ban ads promoting weapon accessories, protective gear in US    US state capitals, Washington on alert for possible pro-Trump armed protests    In Photos: Egyptian archaeological mission at Saqqara Necropolis announces new major discoveries    Armin Laschet picked as new leader of Germany's CDU party    Bank ABC acquires Blom Bank Egypt for $480 million: Sources    Egypt's Sisi discusses bilateral ties, regional developments with Sudanese delegation    Egypt's Mostaqbal Watan party dominates the leading posts of parliament's 25 committees    Egypt's budget deficit to GDP ratio receded to 3.6% in first half of FY2020/21, revenues rose by 16%    Mubarak-era politician Safwat El-Sherif dies aged 88    Egypt's president, Siemens CEO discuss final deal on construction of electric train system    Hollywood actor Mena Massoud visits Giza pyramids, says is proud of Egyptian culture    Egypt reopens airspace and resumes flights with Qatar    Egypt, Tunisia to establish maritime trade route    Egypt eyes gradual return for tourism after revenues fall to $4 bln in 2020    Seasoned Egyptian screenwriter Wahid Hamed dies at 76    Coronavirus strikes Egypt's youth team as 17 players, coach test positive    Nassef Sawiris plans to up his stake in owner of New York Knicks, Rangers    Cairo International Book Fair suspended for five months over coronavirus concerns    Egypt unveils largest archaeological discovery in 2020 with over 100 intact sarcophagi    Trump says won't blame Egypt for being ‘upset' over GERD dispute with Ethiopia    Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan to resume Nile dam talks today    Global Finance: Egypt's Tarek Amer among the world's top 20 central bank governors    The Facebook Preacher's Search for Fame, and Egypt's Economy    Egypt calls on UNSC to address oil spill risks off Yemen coast    Egypt economically strong in face of COVID-19, reforms ongoing: International Cooperation Minister    Arafa Holding reports $144,000 COVID-19-related losses in April    Egypt's efforts in Libya to activate free will of Libyan people: Al-Sisi    Hyksos campaigns were internal takeover, not foreign invaders: study    COVID-19 affects Egypt sporting clubs    COVID-19 will soon turn to seasonal like swine flu: Presidential Health Advisor    ‘Egypt's Support' coalition convenes to discuss its Senate election list    Robbery attempt leads to discovery of Ptolemaic monuments in Qena    Flouting international guidance, Ethiopia unilaterally starts filling its Nile dam    Zaha speaks out after online racial abuse    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.





Pattern Play at Mai Refky's retraced exhibition
Published in Ahram Online on 31 - 10 - 2018

In her latest exhibition, 'Retraced' Mai Refki approaches the human figure philosophically in 31 astoundingly original paintings that combine figuration with pattern, movement and vivid colour. The exhibition ran at the Zamalek Art Gallery to close on 20 October.
A unique mix of figures and patterns has characterised her work since her solo debut, “Woman and Child”, held at the Gezira Art Centre in 2006. But with classically executed figures and the patterns on their clothes and in the background, Refki had not yet developed the concept into the expressionist wonders they are now.
A 1998 graduate of the Painting Department at the Faculty of Fine Art, Refki also studied Islamic art and architecture at the American University in Cairo, later earning the Traditional Islamic Arts and Crafts Diploma from Jameel House of Traditional Arts in Cairo. In 2012, she attended the Maumau Art Residency in Istanbul, giving an exhibition, “Transient Chronicles”, on the experience in 2013. Now that Refki has mastered her craft, with a complete understanding of pattern composition, she seems to be retracing her career with that knowledge added.
One painting, 110x110cm, is entitled Circles/Squares: A Reconstruction. It features three monochromatic human fingers interwoven in a circular movement. As in all other paintings they are outlined in charcoal and pencil. The background is pale yellow with a semi-circular pattern, while the unframed canvas provides the square shape. As in other paintings, the monochromatic human figures contrast with vivid colour. The effect is hypnotic.
“My story with patterns started simply while I was a student,” Refki explains. “I was influenced by painters such as Matisse, Paul Klee and Klimt, whose paintings were inspired by Islamic and Oriental Art. I liked that magical mixture of multiple spirits,” studying patterns from Iran and India as well as Egypt. “I was fascinated to learn that Islamic patterns originated in the art of previous civilisations, including ancient Egypt.” She also liked figures, colour and movement, and her career is very much an attempt to combine all three interests.
In the even bigger, 180x180cm Orbit, there are four figures with their heads at the centre and their limbs scattered around, interspersed by floral and geometric patterns including an eight-pointed star, a check and traditional khayamiya tent designs. The patterns are very different to each other, but they work together to create a harmony of motion and a space for meditation. The “dismemberment” technique, which helps her arrange and emphasise various details, suggests wild feelings and passions that tear people apart. In the end does the interplay of figures and designs reflect a thematic duality such as old and new, life and death, etc?
“Yes,” Refki says, “but you could also read other meanings.” She never has a prior plan when she starts a painting, she says, but the various elements work together as it develops. “I enjoy developing new patterns based on the old, established ones; adding new colours, changing the rules, multiplying an element.” In some cases, as in the vertically tilted diptych named Half Empty, the design is half colour, half black-and-white. Here as in many other paintings Refki makes excellent use of light and shadow.
Some paintings like Twirl, another diptych, which features human figures from two different perspectives, seem to move faster than others. Feet or fists are separated from bodies and you can never tell which extremity fits where, or whether it belongs to a male or female body. The fists suggest rejection or self-defence while floral patterns and nude legs give an erotic impression. A single body, multiplied, seems to straggle both paintings. Refki speed-sketches her figures, making them androgynous and suggesting that gender doesn't matter. But Refki's sense of geometry goes further.
In Reflections, two pairs of paintings mirror each other, while In Four Acts features four female nudes one on top of another. The figure is identical in each case, but it is placed in different positions and against a different composition of shapes and colours so that each time they are rearranged they tell a different story. “Whatever your interpretation,” she beams, “it is a way to celebrate the awesome presence of the human figure.”
This article was first published on Al-Ahram Weekly.
For more arts and culture news and updates, follow Ahram Online Arts and Culture on Twitter at @AhramOnlineArts and on Facebook at Ahram Online: Arts & Culture


Clic here to read the story from its source.