The Cairo Opera House is not just for concerts. Modern Egyptian art is showcased on its premises.
The two floors of the Egyptian modern art museum take visitors on a journey with many artists from different ages into their world and their interesting and rich topics.
“The display shows the historical period for all the 700 artists who were born between 1897 to 1975 with their 900 works comprising paintings, ceramics and sculptures covering the period from the beginning of 20th century until today,” museum director Eman Nabil told the Egyptian Mail.
She said that the main foyer accommodates the work of pioneering artists who lived between 1887 and 1908
“The works show how artists at that time were influenced by the West. Their classic works include examples of surrealism, characteristic of the Dadaist school before the First World War,” she said.
On display is Margarette Nakhla’s artwork showing the stock exchange in Paris. The oil on canvas work dates to 1949.
An oil on plywood portrait called The Little Effendi, shows a little boy wearing a red fez. It was made by Gamal el-Sigini in 1961.
Peasants are busy in the fields in the oil on canvas work of Ali Kamel Al-Deeb. It was made in 1937.
Another example of rural people appears in Ahmed Osman’s bronze-plated gypsum showing a peasant woman.
“In the first floor the western influence is also clear in most of the works in addition to works that focus on popular arts and environment, geometric forms and alphabetic letters,” Nabil said.
The floor consists of five halls covering most works of artists born between 1908 and 1932.
A tray carrying a plate of beans, green onions, tomatoes, two halves of a lemon, egg, two half bread is a work by Ahmed Khairy El-Makki. The ‘Bon appetit’ artwork is made of oil on canvas in 1936.
A 1965 oil-on-wood work by Hasan Suleiman shows a man, bowing his head, busy at his sewing machine.
Not far from him, there is a joyful painting. The Egyptian Wedding March or Zaffa shows men surrounding a groom all dressed in gallabiyas and emmas on their heads. They applaud, dance, sing and hold firebrands. The sound of this joyful atmosphere can be heard since it was drawn in 1938 by Aenayattallah Ibrahim.
Emile Mohareb’s oil on wood work, ‘The retirees coffee shop’ features four men sitting at a table in a coffee shop. Each man in this 1992 painting has a different pose portraying an image of the retirees in general and their feelings.
“The second floor includes seven halls for artists who were born from 1932 – 1975. The use of collage and mix between different materials is clear. In addition to ceramic works that are scattered in the museum,” Nabil said.
‘The Mood of the city: The Girl’ is a work by Esmat Dawestashy. The 1997 work is made of many materials including oil, paper collage and playing cards on plywood.
An oil on canvas on plywood work by Mohamed Hasan Al-Kabbani shows a boat full of fish and their hunter sitting with them. He is playing happily on an oud expressing the joy of earning livelihood.
An oil on wood painting by Sabry Mansour entitled ‘Memory of the Ancients’ tackling the idea of death and resurrection in ancient Egypt.
The whole museum is rich in scenes of village, city life, beaches, and archaeological sites. Statues made of iron for birds and animals are on display.
Nature like green spaces, vases of flowers and tree leaves takes a great portion in the museum. The theme of motherhood occupies the artists’ minds in general; many works are seen in the museum tackling this topic.
Portraits featuring styles of women in different periods, makes visitors observe the hairstyle through years in addition to the difference of attire and makeup.
The museum is open daily (except Fridays and Mondays) from 9am to 4 pm. Tickets for foreigners are LE20.