The Golden Calf | Paintings by Kareem Al Qurity | 8 April – 15 May 2012 | Solo Exhibition

OPENING RECEPTION | In the presence of the artist | Sunday 8 April 2012│7:00 PM – 9:30 PM

The exhibition will continue through 15 May 2012

“The Golden Calf” features paintings by internationally renowned contemporary Egyptian artist Kareem Al Qurity (b.1982). The exhibition marks the first solo exhibition for the young artist.

The god Apis or (Hapi-ankh) is known in Egyptian mythology as a bull-deity worshiped in the Memphis region; its worship began from the second Pharaonic family and up to the modern state. It is considered the most important divine animal in ancient Egypt and it symbolized fertility and prosperity. Ceremonial rituals took place when the calf dies and the rites of burial were held during its embalming and its successor is chosen based on specific characteristics that match the status of a worshiped god.

There’s a famous historical event in the monotheistic religions that relates to Apis, the holy god of ancient Egypt. It was the story of the message of Moses to his people when he helped them cross to Sinai fleeing the tyranny of Pharaoh and they saw signs that confirmed the truth of Moses’ prophecy. During Moses’ forty days of worship on the mountain, they took advantage of his absence and made a golden calf similar to the one they saw in Egypt as a holy god, something that was instigated by the Samaritans who were against the message of Moses.

By virtue of the geography of this historical event, the artist through this exhibition shares a reenactment of that scene from a contemporary perspective, within a whirlwind of ideas and conflicting visions seeing that some of us held on to the truth from the moment it was revealed to us and some of us, the Samaritans, want to hold on to the old ways promoting the ideas that belonged to an era that was dominated by the misguided.

Among the artworks exhibited is a painting titled “The Chair Preaches II” which is an extension of one of the artist’s previous paintings titled “The Chair Preaches I” which represents the theme of power and its manipulation on man which is a recurring theme in the Qur’an. The theme is mainly manifested in the story of Pharaoh & the dialogues between Pharaoh & Moses which is manifested in the form of calligraphy written on the chair situated in the center of the painting.

The Golden Calf

Our daily lives have become rich with political, social & religious concepts that we repeatedly discuss such as social polarization, the relationship of religion to politics & the meaning of conflict. As a result, we have entered a state of confusion & lack of understanding caused by the frequent struggle between people claiming heroism, which led to an even wider struggle.

Through this exhibition, I am trying to expose those charged clashes of ideas & visions. The exhibition is inspired by (Apis), the ancient Egyptian deity who was known in the monotheistic religions as The Golden Calf based on the story of Moses & his people when the people were broken up in continuous oppositions of holy beliefs after truth has been revealed to them; some followed the new holy message while others stuck to the old regime.

Kareem Al Qurity

The Chair Preaches

In the Arab culture, the chair remains a symbol of authority & power, one that whispers to the ruler and guides only him to the path leading to the throne. On the other hand, one finds the ruled ambitiously trying to turn the chair from being that malicious whisperer into a preacher guiding the ruler to justice.

The theme of power and its manipulation on man is a recurring theme in the Qur’an. The theme is mainly manifested in the story of Pharaoh & the dialogues between Pharaoh & Moses.

This artwork is a product of the artist’s previous collection titled “Safe Haven”, produced over the past 3 years which expressed the idea of people’s inner feelings about self security.

People & the Constitution:

Constitution is a set of basic principles governing the State’s authorities; they are set to serve the rights of both the rulers and the ruled, religious and political practices, partisan life and social justice.

The artist here is in search for the relationship between the people and the Constitution, to clarify the consistency of the Constitution as text written with behaviors and attitudes of people in the community. He is also trying to find out whether the people develop texts that are not written or codified, and if so how they are reflected in their daily practices as a safe haven to ensure the circumvention of the Constitution while the text remain locked into the paper it’s written on.

From here comes the idea of part of the artist’s project “People & the Constitution” consisting of three big panels under the name of “People Against the Constitution” that was exhibited in the Cairo International Biennale XII 2010 which marked his first experience with the Cairo Biennale.

Safe Haven:

The people on the streets of Cairo are the artist’s main inspiration with their variety of features and characteristics which hold a set of social values and concepts and culture diversity which in turn reflects in the artist’s artistic expression. Despite the diversity of features that those personalities on the streets possess and their different social roles, they share the same approach of dormancy in which they are dealt with on the artist’s canvas. The artist believes that the Egyptian street has more sadness than any other street in the world. He has deeply felt this after spending many days sketching and filming people on public transportation in order to decipher the subtle variations of their moods, the richness of their resignation, and the depth of their sadness. “Safe Haven “expresses the idea of people’s inner feelings about self security in Egypt.

To view full painting with its caption, click on the image to enlarge it.


*The artwork titled “People Against the Constitution” was previously exhibited in Cairo International Biennale, 2010.