The past two years have given good exposure to the Egyptian street art scene. With increasing international media focus on graffiti artists – I’ve lost count of the number of print articles, news shorts and documentaries made – comes increasing interest on the part of foreign delegations looking to support and endorse the Egyptian art scene, as well as books and films that will hopefully strengthen the graffiti scene’s legitimacy in Egypt.
A graffiti school ‘Hetan’ (Arabic for walls) is in the process of opening up on Champolion Street in Downtown Cairo, and may become the first centre and resource for Egyptian graffiti artists.
There have also been several recent exhibitions by graffiti artists from Egypt in Lebanon, Germany, Swizerland and now the US. While they’re only a handful of artists and most of them are established and recognized names today, I hope that these exhibitions will open up opportunities for lesser known artists to get their break as well.
Here are a few photos of the recent exhibits by Egyptian artists El Teneen, Kareem Gouda, Ammar Abo Bakr, Aya Tarek, Ganzeer and Shank, as well as links to the exhibitions.
Kareem Gouda and El Teneen are exhibiting their original work alongside Shepard Fairey and the Gorilla Girls in ‘Of The People’ exhibition in Washington DC, from October 27 to November 23, 2012. More details here.
Aya, Ammar and Shank exhibited their work in White Wall, a graffiti and street art exhibition in Beirut that ended on November 3, 2012 and featured incredible talent from several countries in the region. Read more here and view photos here.
Ammar and Aya also exhibited their work alongside Ganzeer in an Arabic Graffiti exhibition in Frankfurt in April 2012. You can view more photos here.
PS: This is a shout out to an exhibition curator who contacted me to put them in touch with certain Egyptian graffiti artists. Without naming names, I regret passing their contacts on after you treated them like third-class artists, telling them you can’t afford to fly them out to the exhibition because you’re spending your money on ‘more important artists’, and selling their original work for ridiculously low prices while taking a massive percentage of their profits. Apparently this is not a random case, and several artists have stories of being cheated out of profits or forced to pay for their own accommodation or materials, etc.
Organizers, treat the artists with respect. Just because they’re lesser known and aspiring doesn’t mean they’re idiots, and the next time this happens, I will do what I can to expose you orientalist organizers exploiting Egyptian talent and cheating them out of their profits, and make sure you’re humiliated. A little bad press won’t hurt.