Nagla Al Khoraiby
On Sunday Sept. 19, the “This is Not Graffiti” exhibition was hosted by Townhouse Gallery and will be lasting for a few weeks. The exhibition gathered nine graffiti artists tracked down by the organizer of the event Soraya Morayef, known as “Su Zee.”
In a cozy downtown district, a varied art-oriented crowd joined to witness a group of artists’ contemporary vision through graffiti brought straight from the streets to the Townhouse Gallery factory space.
Su Zee is an AUC alumna who majored in journalism and mass communication. She has a blog called “Su Zee in the City” through which she has been following graffiti artists in Cairo since the revolution.
She was able to track down nine graffiti artists: Keizer, Sad Panda, El Teneen, Adham Bakry, Dokhan, Hend Kheera, Hany Khaled, Charles Akl and Amr Gamal. Each had an entire wall of the factory space on which they drew and presented their graffiti pieces. Despite the notion of graffiti art being a form of street art, the artists were successful in capturing the street feel of their artwork in the exhibition’s boundaries.
The audience found this kind of art fresh and exciting, as well as responsively matching to the current events in Cairo following the revolution.
Suraya Hobruk, a German living in Egypt and a visitor of the exhibition, said, “I find (the exhibition) really interesting in reference to the political situation and its critical humor approach to it.”
Mariam El-Ibyari, an architecture student at AUC and an artist herself, thought of this kind of art to be “very liberating and expressive.”
However, some of the artists had another opinion about showcasing their graffiti in an enclosed space. Sad Panda’s piece expressed his objection to showcasing his graffiti in an exhibition, and maintained that graffiti is strictly street art.
On the other hand, artist Hany Khaled said, “Graffiti is still a form of art that can be displayed, and I think showcasing it here brought the opportunity for this audience to observe this kind of art, and the most important thing is that the message would be delivered.” He also added that it was a great opportunity for him to meet other graffiti artists.
The exhibition hall indeed captured the streets with its art and versatile crowd. Su Zee, the organizer, highlighted that she measures the success of this event with the responsive faces of the audience, which was certainly the case. The art pieces provoked the audience to interact in political, humorous, and controversial conversations. And the artists’ attempt to send a message was fulfilled through their expressive, provocative graffiti.