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Egypt’s Youth Salon Seeks to Identify New Artistic Talent

CAIRO—Under the slogan “The Dream Is the Land of Creativity”, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture is holding its 32nd Youth Salon, supporting the discovery of fresh artistic talent among young people.

More than 200 works by 196 male and female artists in this year’s salon are now on display at the Palace of Arts at the Cairo Opera House complex until mid-February.

The works chosen for the salon were selected in a competition run by the ministry’s Fine Arts Sector.

Artists must be under the age of 23 to participate, and the works they submit must be on display for the first time. Most of the participants are recent graduates of the country’s university faculties of art.

The salon offers prizes worth a total of 160,000 Egyptian pounds (about $10,000) in eight categories: painting, sculpture, drawing, ceramics, graphic arts, installation art, digital arts, and interactive media.

The Youth Salon “is the most important event, and the main station for discovery … of promising and serious talents. ”

Khaled Sorour
Head of the Visual Arts Sector of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture

In addition, the salon awards two incentive prizes selected by the judges’ committee.

Khaled Sorour, head of the Fine Arts Sector, told Al-Fanar Media that the Youth Salon “is the most important event, the main station for discovery … of promising and serious talents” in the Egyptian visual arts.

The salon “is the time for amazement, rebellion and daring,” he added.

Nature and the Human Body

Subjective experiences are the source of many of the works on display. In her painting “Unity with Nature”, the artist Omnia Mohamed Sayed, who had an accident that affected her movement, looks at her years of medical treatment with a romantic sensibility.

Her project began through observing a tree from her hospital window, Sayed told Al-Fanar Media. She saw the tree’s development from barrenness to growth as a reflection of its psychological state, ending with the branches covered with green leaves. Sayed, who works as a teaching assistant at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Helwan University, said she wanted to express the emotional link between human beings and nature in her art.

Gallery: Egypt’s Youth Salon

Works in the installation category were also inspired by nature.

One artist’s installation work combined dozens of birds made of paper in the Japanese origami style with lighting in gradations of blue to create a duality of sky and song. In the background, the artist added tones of the musical scale to build a dialogue between human music and the music of nature.

Some participants found inspiration in organs of the human body. A ceramic work depicted the anatomy of the human heart, highlighting its delicate folds. Another was based on the human skeleton as it appears in medical images, with added artistic elements.

Inspired by Nostalgia

“Was this dream not mine from the start?” This question was posed next to a replica of a classic telephone with many speakers hanging from it, as if preserving the tales of its absent owners. The work, called “On a Day and a Night”, is shown in the interactive media category.

“I tried to express the idea of isolation that human beings suffer from these days.”

May Abdullah
A young artist describing her statue of a blind-folded girl

There was more artistic nostalgia in the graphic arts and photography sections, which are dominated by black and white photos of old houses, clock movements, piano keys, and musical notes.

The artist Mai Abdullah told Al-Fanar Media about her work, a statue of a girl sitting blindfolded. “I tried to express the idea of isolation that human beings suffer from these days,” she said. She used porcelain, ropes, iron, and marble in her statue, a new style for her.

“I relied in particular on ceramics, because it is an earth material. I see it mimicking the earth, and I left cracks that resemble the cracks of thirsty earth. The ropes reinforce the blindfolded girl’s body, as if she were in the heart of the event. But in fact she feels detached from reality, and perhaps she is drowning in a different virtual reality.”

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Another artist went back to childhood for inspiration, building a model that simulates the famous “Barbie” doll house with its symbolism of beauty  and the  concept of perfection.

The salon continues until mid-February.

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