AUC Hosts Two Major Exhibitions by Artists Huda Lutfi and Sherin Guirguis
February 6, 2019, Cairo – The American University in Cairo (AUC) announced the opening of two major exhibitions by the renowned artists, Huda Lutfi and Sherin Guirguis, in the soon-to-be inaugurated Tahrir Cultural Center (TCC) at AUC Tahrir Campus. Lutfi’s exhibition entitled, “When Dreams Call for Silence,” is now showing in the Margo Veillon Gallery and Sherin Guirguis’ exhibition “Bint al-Nil/Daughter of the Nile,” is showing in the Future and Legacy Galleries. Curated by cultural historian Shiva Balaghi, senior advisor to the President and Provost of AUC for Arts and Cultural Programs, the two exhibitions mark the beginning of a series of future art exhibitions and cultural activities in the TCC.
AUC President Francis Ricciardone noted, “We at AUC have always recognized Egypt, Mother of the Universe, as the millennial fountainhead of creativity and the arts in this region. These dramatically fresh exhibits by internationally renowned Egyptian artists Huda Lutfi and Sherin Guirguis reaffirm this fact, and offer hope for the possibility of a renaissance. We are grateful both to the veteran master and to the rising star for joining in inaugurating AUC's new Tahrir Cultural Center, made possible by a visionary gift from prominent businessman and investor Naguib Sawiris. As we celebrate this centennial year of AUC's founding, this is a most fitting way to rededicate AUC to a second century of service to Egypt and its region.”
Huda Lutfi Exhibition Brief: For her first exhibition at AUC in over twenty years, artist Huda Lutfi has created an entirely new body of work. Comprised of drawings and paintings, sculptures and installations, her exhibition is entitled, “When Dreams Call for Silence.” The evocative artworks employ multivalent references -from surrealism to pharaonic art, from Eastern philosophy to meditation. “There is a stillness, a calm in the images,” Huda Lutfi explains. “The mood is one of reflection and silent contemplation.”
Stemming from a period of intense artistic creativity, this exhibition takes Lutfi’s aesthetic practice into new directions. A series of evocative paintings in beautifully somber hues portray landscapes of interior spaces and deeply personal portraits. A central piece of the exhibit is a sound installation that incorporates a meditation by Rupert Spira, a teacher of philosophy and spiritual practice. Lutfi also offers an animation short with music, depicting marching figures that echo pharaonic imagery. Lutfi’s visual language is steeped in the residues of history. Making art becomes a way to reconcile a chasm between the artist’s inner life and the world around her.
Sherin Guirguis Exhibition Brief: “Bint al-Nil/Daughter of the Nile,” exhibition marks the first ever in Egypt by Egyptian-American artist Sherin Guirguis, showing a series of paintings and sculptures inspired by Doria Shafik. “Coming across the work of Dr. Doria Shafik was transformative for my artist practice. The whole of her work, as a poet, a feminist and a mother,” Guirguis said.
On February 19, 1951, Doria Shafik convened what had been announced as “a feminist congress” on the campus of The American University in Cairo. Before the gathering of 1500 women, Shafik declared, “Our meeting today is not a congress but a parliament. A true one! That of women! We are half the nation! We represent here the hope and despair of this important half of our nation.” The group then marched from AUC’s Ewart Hall along Kasr al-Aini Street to the gates of the Parliament, demanding that women be granted the right to vote and hold public office. The protest ultimately led to a declaration by the Egyptian government in January 1956 granting women citizens the right to vote.
Over the course of two years of research as she prepared to make this body of work, Guirguis integrated ideas and concepts from Shafik’s life into her own personal history and artistic development. Hand-cut paper is a characteristic feature of Guirguis’ painting. For her, cutting is a kind of piercing, a cutting through fixed narratives, a way to create an opening. Guirguis uses materials and methods to reflect time and space. The earth of the desert, the flow of water, and light piercing the air anchor the decorative elements in her artworks. A process of perpetual discovery animates her aesthetic impulse, where narrative, site, and text come together. As a whole, the artworks on display at AUC portray a search for a sense of place, a gendered reading of lost histories, an evocative declaration of the ways the past continues to shape the present.