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Egyptian artist Salah El-Meligy is showcasing his adoration for the big circle in the sky that shines so bright at night and all its cosmic phases as part of the Spring of Culture festivities.
The selenophile - a person that loves the moon - is featuring several of his mixed-medium pieces at the Art Concept in Gudaibiya. The exhibition is titled Treinta Caras de la Luna (30 faces of the moon).
“I love the word moon in Spanish as I adore the language,” said the 66-year-old who lives in Cairo near the pyramids.
“The first humans were puzzled to comprehend how the moon is suspended in the air, swimming in space and made of cosmic matter.
“Humans’ interpretation of the moon gave it some holiness. Different cultures thought the moon was mythical or imaginary, while others considered it sacred. The various moon descents have led me to address it as an old traveller, which is how I feel about its continuous journey.
“The moon affects our mood, energy, spiritual being and bodies, as well as the sea tides and it has been scientifically proven that it impacts all creatures. The moon, indeed, has a powerful presence on all beings.
“I aim to take the viewers on a journey and a dream through my artworks. Sometimes we lose sight of the beauty and nature around us. A beautiful journey where the elements of nature add energy and love to the day. Get closer to nature, contemplate the plants and creatures around us to take the cosmic side of life and elude the seriousness.”
Salah’s artworks are meticulously drawn in ink on Canson paper in circles with a diameter of 37:60cm. Of the 36 artworks about the moon — 34 are ink drawings on paper and two were created using different printmaking techniques including etching, soft ground and aquatint, with limited editions of 10 available.
Eleven of his artworks were created using handmade paper from his previous abstract experiment in 2002 and he has seven more from another project, called ‘Souls and Trees’, using drawing ink on paper.
His inspiration for the project, which took almost a year to complete, is nature and the universe.
“I use different techniques such as intaglio print and drawings with ink on paper,” explained Salah who was always fascinated by art and started experimenting early in the 1960s. “Intaglio printing is acid-etching with a needle. I also use monochrome with a quill that looks like a metal pen, and printing with the effect of watercolours is called aquatint.
“With experience, I discovered my tendency towards expressionism and abstraction school, not devoid of surrealist visions. I believe the moon is a source of energy, light and love that inhabits the consciousness, and in this exhibition, I invite viewers to a world of imagination, where they can contemplate the universe.”
The exhibition runs until March 23 and is open from Sunday to Thursday from 10am to 2pm and 3pm to 6pm, and on Saturday from 3pm to 7pm.
While this is his first personal exhibition in Bahrain, Salah is no stranger to the island.
“I have conducted printing workshops in 2014 at Albareh Art Gallery and another workshop in 2019 at Art Concept,” said Salah who earned a PhD in fine arts in 1993 and currently works as a Professor of Graphics at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Egypt. “This is my third visit to Bahrain as part of the Spring of Culture and I will be conducting another workshop.
“I am honoured to deal with Bahraini artists. It is essential to exchange experiences with artists from around the region. My next project is underway and it is a process that requires time and patience.”
Since the eighties, Salah has worked in graphic art, drawing and photography using ink, oil and acrylic colours. His art navigates the worlds of dream, myth and imagination, inspired by his Egyptian heritage.
He received several local and international awards, including the Fifth International Cairo Biennial in 1994.
In 1997, he won the Arbitration Prize at the Second Egyptian International Print Triennial and in 2001, he took home the International Bronze Prize at the International Graphic Art Biennial of Dry Point in Serbia and Montenegro - Yugoslavia. He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions locally and internationally, including the ‘Buzz’ at Dai Gallery in 2017, the Egyptians and Saudis group exhibition at Jeddah Atelier in 2019 and the Fifth International Beijing Biennale in China in 2012.
His artworks, acquired by collectors in Saudi Arabia, Germany, Canada, Brazil, New York and France, are also available at various institutions including the Museum of Egyptian Modern Art and the Cairo Opera House, among others.
For details, follow @salahelmeligy and @artconceptbh on Instagram.