After a long day of wandering around Zamalek (the large green island in the middle of the Nile), I stepped into the Mahmoud Mukhtar Museum and saw an amazing exhibition by Ali El-Ruby called, “Ruby’s World.” When I was leaving the small gallery a man came up to me and asked if I was an artist. He proceeded to introduce himself as the director of the museum, and a sculptor himself, Tarek El-Komi. He then asked if I had seen the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art and when I said no, offered to show me the way there and join him in seeing some art. It turns out that many of his sculptures are in the courtyard of the Opera house and ministry of arts complex in Zamalek. He also has works acquired by the theatre and Museum of Modern Art as well (below one of his sculptures is pictured in the museum). Then he invited me to tea and told me all about his life as an artist here in Cairo, his family, the themes in his art. He has two daughters my age studying fashion and art. I was astounded by the generosity and openness to a complete stranger, no less as an artist that is well respected and integral within the community here in Cairo. Let me just say that if I visit New York for the first time and stopped in the any random gallery there is no way that those attendants behind the large high while desks would even give me a first glance. And this artist decided to share with me his perspective and thoughts just on the basis that I said I was an artist visiting Egypt. And from the short glimpse that I have seen of the work in contemporary art scene in Cairo, the spirit of the place and soul of the people is very much captured in the work. The beginning of art, engineering, craftsmanship, and culture started here, and the spirit of creating beauty is still present.


3 thoughts on “Zamalek

  1. Remarkable hospitality! You were clearly fated to be on the spot to take advantage of the opportunity.
    Also, for some reason, the photo appearing on your front page for the day reminded me of Moses found in the rushes.

  2. I am not surprised by the hospitality in the Muslim world. I have heard nothing but wonderful stories from those who have visited.

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