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Venue Gallery MISR Other offers Map
Start date 27-01-2015
End date 08-05-2025
Opening on tuesday the 27th of Jan till the 19th of feb 2015.
Born in Alexandria, where he studied painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts.
He completed his BA at faculty of fine arts in 2007, followed by Master Degree at Alexandria University in 2011 and currently is enrolled in Ph. D studies.
Kareem currently has been lecturer at the faculty of Fine Arts in Alexandria University since 2009.
Helmy's suspended destinies
By Dr. Yasser Mongui
The first time I came across painter Kareem Helmy was in 2012. I was assigned to organize and curate the 23rd youth salon tournament. Helmy's triptych was one of the most impressive work in the exhibition. Each part of this integrated work was appratently intended to express successfully an independent theme. However, Helmy admiringly juxtaposed the three parts to constitute a gestalt approach to the idea. Helmy's brilliant technique earned him one of the Salon's prizes. In addition, his triptych was largely acknowledged by critics and art lovers.
Helmy decided to renew and expand his extraordinary experiments in his new exhibition. This time, he revealed a unique and expensive work inspired by his individual vision of painting. He has established an identity, which is far different from his contemporaries'. Due to his artistic vocabulary and potentials, Helmy's experiment will definitely expand and grow much more successful to reveal bigger number of themes, concepts and techniques.
In his new exhibition, Helmy debates a contemporary, restive phenomenon of the marriage between capitalism and the authority. The witnesses of this controversial marriage are people living in modern cities. Visual signs and symbols are cleverly suggested and abbreviated to intensify the artist's vision. In addition to the grand armchair, which symbolizes the seat of power, the viewer is introduced to a pompous and domineering person, whose presence recurs in Helmy's work. The person's overwhelming passion for authority and controlling others are manifested in his rigid features, an elegant black coat and a collection of impressive neckties.
Helmy also came up with heavily abbreviated subordinate symbols, which are manifested in mountains of mail, papers and documents strewn carelessly or packaged; there are also road signs, highway warnings and barrier tapes in working sites. Political elite and celebrities are deliberately barricading themselves in to underestimate the nation's collective memory, destroy its basics and monopolize its history. The elite also keep the ordinary people and the observers off by setting up insurmountable hurdles. .
It is apparent that Helmy is experimenting with 'creative revenge': he deliberately cuts off the arms of the central character, which represent the hands of the clique, could represent capitalism, regime or the elite. Thus, the artist created a perfect paradox: a smart-looking and pompous amputee. It seems that Helmy is denouncing and condemning authoritarianism and patriarchy. Also the amputee (the central character in the work) is given heavy presence in the scene. The smart looking person is depicted sitting down on piles of papers strewn across the space; the short door of the toilet reveals his pants down. The central character is sometimes depicted soaring with the vapours of food being heated in magician hat-like metal pots. The artist is sounding a wake-up call that we should be aware of a deceptive atmosphere controlled by hardly visible characters. .
Helmy's imaginative characters firmly reject any bid for mutual understanding or interaction. They turn their backs on us to frustrate our attempts to decode their illusive faces—amazingly symmetrical. They, nevertheless, are ready to abort firmly any attempt to break their overpowering presence; our helpless attempt to escape from the fetters of power is complicated by symmetrical featureless faces, and brief and intersected spaces.
Throughout such a miserable performance of rotation between the presence and disappearance, objects of daily use remain placed randomly to mark the limits of the frozen existence. Cookware, pieces of furniture and desks are scattered everywhere, some of which are hardly seen in the vacuum, which weighs heavily on the space in the painting. Helmy's objects would also give the impression that they are defying the magnetic force or forging that kinds of relationship associated with the environment of storerooms, cellars or garbage boxes. At the moment, the viewer would appreciate the meaning of the concepts of worthlessness, the elimination of logic and the collapse of a barrier between the natural and the intended presence of objects. We are introduced to road signs, which lead to false spaces overcrowded with creatures struggling desperately for their identity and existence.
Although Helmy is experimenting with a controversial theme and dealing with intriguing ideas, which are heavily weighing on the public psyche, he successfully rejected the trap of a streamlined art. Nor did he allow the idea to relegate the aesthetics in the work. He masterfully assesses his visual elements. He admirably appreciates the basics of representational art, anatomy and composition. Helmy also came up with an individual colour composition, which deepened his identity as an experienced painter, who wonderfully decodes the secrets of his art. For example, the irresistible presence of black and its grades are brilliantly in tune with different colours; although they are overwhelming other paintings, they are impressively in harmony with black, its touches and sharp intersecting lines running deep through texture of the composition.
Like black, Helmy's gray and its shades display impressive presence. However, the neutral colour dominates larger spaces to underline the value of vacuum and its overwhelming influence in the background, on the walls, on the ground, and in the separation voids between characters and objects. Moreover, Helmy's masterful blend of colour breams breaks monotonous atmosphere in gray areas. The vividness of gray is stimulated by soft and lovely yellowish shades in some paintings; sky blue obfuscates the neutral colour in different paintings. Helmy also produced an elaborate combination of colour relationship in the space to conform to each theme.
Helmy's individual colour technique is manifested in sloping lines, which tear the space uninterruptedly. Life experience would prompt us to have a better understanding of a nervous atmosphere provoked by soaring and descending areas; and by sliding and helpless falling of objects, masses and liquids. Such a stressful atmosphere should remind us of tortuous attempts by people and animal to walk up or down a sloping road; or to balance themselves on uneven surfaces.
Having a good knowledge of their psychology, Helmy successfully employs sloping lines to provoke a state of confusion, aimlessness and unsteadiness in the work. Many of Helmy's characters are depicted desperately falling and rising in their attempt to walk steadily on uneven surface. The viewer will immediately realize how fragile and inert these characters are.
Such a precarious slope stirs up elements scattered haphazardly in the surface: a sloping stove, which is about to fall, is surmounted by pots; a wobbling dining table is overcrowded with dishes, fruits and bottles. Such a contagious precarious atmosphere also threatens chairs, lamps, metal rods, wooden beams and plastic ribbons. The viewer is put on alert to witness the noisy fall of amputated characters and creatures struggling to come across with their frozen destinies, regardless of their appeal to face their frozen and suspended destinies.
Translation by : Mohsen El Arayshie