It’s 1952, and Egypt is finally independent from British colonial rule. The fight for independence marked an end to almost half a century of struggle, and with it came social and cultural change on an unprecedented scale.
In the same year came legislation that pushed the position of women in the country forward significantly. They were politically active on a bigger scale than ever before, challenging their roles in the family and society with a determination that paralleled the movement for independence.
It was fundamental in carving out a new identity for the Egyptian in the wake of independence, and nowhere was this more apparent than in the artwork of prominent female artists in the country. Their work is on show at Green Art Gallery making up the Modernist Women of Egypt exhibition.
It chronicles the country’s unique exploration of nationalism, womanhood, tradition and multiculturalism at a tumultuous time in the 20th Century.
Inji Efflatoun, one of the artists whose work is exhibited, for example, used surrealism as a way of fighting back, while Gazbia Sirry’s pieces focus on national independence and social justice.
The exhibition focuses on the years 1950 to 1970, when these women were integral to the changing mindsets that helped free the country. They portray the men and women who fought against colonial rule and combine symbolism from Egyptian mythology and folklore to shed light on social struggles and difficult living conditions.
The show narrates modern Egyptian history and charts the emancipation of both the country and its women. It’s intriguing, inspiring and essential viewing for anyone with an interest in the region and its art.
Free. Until July 27. Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz (04 346 9305).