When we think about the Egyptian art scene we think about the countless galleries in Alexandria, the graffiti scenes in Dahab or the art school in Zamalek, but this artist is putting Kafr EL Sheikh right up there on that list.
Art is about creating and sharing to make the world a more beautiful place. The sad reality, however, is that the importance of art is neglected in many Egyptian communities. Artistic expression is generally extremely underestimated in our culture. Fortunately however, Egyptian artist Abdelwahab Abdelmohsen knows the importance of having beauty in everyday life and has been bringing that to his hometown in Kafr El Sheikh.
Abdelwahab Abdelmohsen, born and raised in Kafr el Sheikh, is one of the leaders of the Egyptian art movement. Abdelmohsen’s romantic view of the Nile Delta is extremely prominent in his work and is what makes him so iconic in Egypt’s art scene. His organisation, a non-profit that bears his name, is dedicated to sharing culture and creativity through art to show how beauty and aesthetic can battle extreme hatred and intolerance. As part of their initiative to develop rural areas, they have been organising an annual festival known as the ‘Borollos Symposium for Drawing on Walls and Boats.’ This festival aims to decorate the artist’s hometown with huge murals and vibrant colours.
Before the festival started, Borollos was completely unexposed to and cut from humanly interactions; there was no presence of joy. The festival emphasises that art is capable of changing societies for the better and spreading happiness in the hearts of its residents.
The festival aims to help the people of Borollos, especially the children, express themselves through art and colours, though the locals weren’t accepting in the beginning. During the first festival, the children were very aggressive and unwilling to participate but as the festival grew and evolved over the years, they became more and more excited and have been drawing and painting on their own to show off their work to the artists.
The Abdelwahab Abdelmohsen foundation has been gathering artists since the beginning of the festival from all over the world in order to teach the townspeople and children acceptance towards those who are different and to teach them communication. Every year artists are invited from all over the world to paint on the red and grey walls and leave beautiful masterpieces. The festival has seen artists from Egypt and all over the world, including ones from North Korea, India, Macedonia, Tunisia, Iran, Sudan and Bahrain. This collection of cultures has truly made the pieces in the town diverse and unique and are part of what the festival is all about.