Art exhibition at Serena Hotel on Sunday: Shining through adversity Egyptian artist Naira El-Tablawi has painted portraits of African women in Egypt
ISLAMABAD: There is a certain kind of beauty that transcends the established norm and shows through a person’s features, whatever they may be. Going beyond skin-deep beauty, the Egyptian artist Naira El-Tablawi has painted portraits of African women in Egypt. She exhibited a set of 24 paintings at Serena Hotel on Sunday.
Titled “Molasses: Black Honey”, the exhibition of oil paintings is a tribute to a large community of African refugees in Egypt. The artist took inspiration from the beauty, strength and dignity these displaced African women exude and welcomed them into Cairo with her art.
Tablawi manifests her passion for the human face through oil portraits. She has used soft pastels and bold solid colours in different pieces. She has chosen to work in oil as it is a powerful medium, which is not say it is easy to manipulate, she added. It took her about two years to put the exhibition together.
Each painting stands out for the vividness of expression, a twinkle in the eye, a sultry pout, a full smile. The accessories and makeup add character, making the subjects more glamorous. Many of them are donning headwraps, chunky hoop earrings and amulets. The Cleopetra-esque makeup stands out, with exaggerated eye-liner and exuberant shades of lipstick.
While talking about a portrait in which a woman is leaning in seductively, the artist explained, “She lives in my neighbourhood. I love her attitude, her gait and the way she smells. It is something I have tried to bring into the painting.” The viewer cannot see any clothes but the caramel texture of skin is aglow in tones of gold and brown. The woman in the portrait seems to be in a contorted modelling pose, with a devil-may-care expression. Tablawi has aptly captured their facial features intricately, flattering the bee-stung lips, the wide nose and glistening-white teeth, with her paint brush.
“You know how being fair is considered to be a widely-accepted criteria for beauty. I want to show through my work that people of colour are just as . Honey is a metaphor for beauty and power,”
“At first glance, the portraits evoke a lot of natural expression. The emotions of the women have been captured very realistically,” said Stacy, a visitor at the exhibition.
The day-long exhibition saw a sizable turnout in small doses. “The artist has skilfully captured women she knows first-hand into a collection of artistically-articulate paintings,” said Hafsa Younas, one of the event’s organisers.
Published in The Express Tribune,