The ‘Tale of Two Cities’ celebrates Greco-Egyptian cultural synergies - GulfToday

The ‘Tale of Two Cities’ celebrates Greco-Egyptian cultural synergies

Egyptian 33

Omar Tousson's artwork.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

In a collaboration that strives to transcend time and borders, CulturVator/Art D’Égypte has officially launched its art exhibition titled ‘Tale of Two Cities’. It is hosted jointly by the Acropolis Museum in Athens (June 25 – July 16, 2024) and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria (Oct. 17–31, 2024). The exhibition is held under the auspices of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Egyptian Embassy in Greece led by Omar Amer. It is aimed to commemorate Greece-Egypt union, highlighting the profound historical and cultural ties that have interlinked the two nations through centuries. The exhibition aims to create a visual dialogue that explores the rich tapestry of shared heritage and the foundations of classical antiquity that both Greece and Egypt exemplify.

For the initiative, CulturVator/Art D’Égypte is also partnering with and is being hosted by the Cavafy Archive, the Onassis Foundation, and the Onassis Library led by Afroditi Panagiotakou; the Benaki Museum led by Dr. George Manginis; and the Acropolis Museum led by Professor Nikolaos Stampolidis. Against the backdrop of a global initiative to strengthen cultural bonds, ‘Tale of Two Cities’ hopes to serve as a beacon of unity, fostering a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of two ancient civilisations. Through the works of contemporary artists, the show strives to bridge the gap between antiquity and the present, illustrating how the Greece-Egypt cultural connection continues to inspire and shape today’s artistic and cultural landscapes.

Egyptian 1 Weaam Ali’s offering.

The participating Greek and Egyptian artists have created artworks in response to the artistic convergence that has evolved throughout history, highlighting the deep-rooted bonds that have continued from classical to contemporary times, while also celebrating the individual identities of both nations. The exhibition aims to showcase Greek and Egyptian artists in direct dialogue that mirrors that of their civilisations over thousands of years. Nikolas Stampolidis, Director General of Acropolis Museum, said: “I would like to confess that the Acropolis Museum does not host art exhibitions; it is an exception today because it is connected with the Embassy of Egypt, a country that it is not only a friend, but where we are in a sisterhood.”

Taking place across museums, libraries and galleries in both cities, each event will add different dimensions to a story of cultural exchange. ‘Tale of Two Cities’ features artists including late artist Mahmoud Said, Papageorge, Costas Varotsos, Danae Stratou, Omar Touson, Said Badr, and Karim El Hayawan, to name a few. They illustrate a diverse array of artistic expressions. In addition, there will be one night at the St. George hotel presented through the lens of Ahmed Farid. A collateral exhibition titled ‘Art by the Sea’ is being held at the Lemon Tree & Co., on the Riviera in Athens, beginning June 25, 2024. It will be open to the public through the end of summer and aims to create an interaction between humanity and the vast expanse of the sea. It presents a fusion of creativity and the timeless rhythm of the waves, with the coastline serving as both canvas and muse. Artists harness the elemental power of water and sand, translating the sounds of the tide into visual poetry.

Egyptian 22  Nadine Abdel Ghaffar speaks.

In this immersive gallery of nature, ‘Art by the Sea’ turns into a meditation on impermanence, beauty and the eternal handshake between land and sea. The exhibition showcases works by Egyptian artists including Emad Abu Grain, Dina Fahmy, Mariam Abou Taleb, Iman Barakat, and Weaam Ali. Nadine Abdel Ghaffar, founder of Culturvator/Art D’Égypte, expressed her delight that the initiative has become reality. She stated: “This exhibition is not merely a showcase of artistic brilliance, but a profound cultural exchange designed to be a transformative experience, fostering a renewed appreciation for the enduring cultural ties between these two nations.

“I was born and raised in Alexandria and was always fascinated by Alexander the Great’s vision to create a cultural city. As an Alexandrian, I feel it is my responsibility to carry out this mission and extend it into our contemporary world.” Omar Amer, Egyptian Ambassador in Greece, expressed his enthusiasm for the initiative, saying: “This event is a testament to the strong bond between Egypt and Greece, two ancient civilisations that shaped the world. Today, as we stand here, we celebrate our shared heritage and the bridge that connects the past with the present, and the East with the West.”

Omar Tousson, one of the participating artists, said: “For me, ‘Tale of Two Cities’ holds profound significance beyond its status as an art exhibition. Before being an artist, I’m an Alexandrian, and that means possessing a rich cultural legacy nurtured amidst the streets and corners of this wonderful city.” Artist Danae Stratou added: “I created a 600 centimetre aluminum rod balanced on a 150 centimetre stainless steel shaft which points towards Alexandria when in Athens and towards Athens when installed in Alexandria.

The sculpture delineates an axis that extends ad infinitum, connecting Athens and Alexandria.” Artist Costas Varotsos wants to add that “the two cities will give hope again, because they have defined world culture.” Programme supporters include Barta & Partner and hospitality partner in Greece, The Lemon Tree & Co. Art D’Égypte was established by Nadine Abdel Ghaffar as a privately owned Egyptian multidisciplinary firm that aims to support Egyptian arts and cultural initiatives. CulturVator was born out of a need to extend the reach of Art D’Égypte and its initiatives under one umbrella.

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