n his exhibition Sun, artist Shaaban ElHosiny endows sunflowers, which are basking in the sunshine, looking towards the horizon, and filling the fields with joy, with mythical characteristics. At times, a sunflower rides a mysterious horse-like, blood-red creature that seems like a Buraq and at others is depicted as a girl with braided hair. This girl is big in some paintings and small in others. She sits at the edge of the table by the flowerpot, next to which she seems the size of Little Thumbling while a hoopoe whispers the secrets of wisdom in her ears. Sunflowers intertwine with towering buildings that beautiful women carry on their shoulders in a visually harmonious scene that evokes the world of childhood, which is portrayed as an independent, luminous entity that occupies Husseini’s surfaces to create a totally new presence. Husseini does not resort to ornaments and elaborate compositions for he relies on the relationship between the unique work of art that represents the artist and what Roland Barthes calls
Husseini creates a world of artistic compositions enveloped in rays of light, shadows, and geometrical miniatures at times and leafy branches at others. He uses long lines and sudden curves that create a rhythmical movement, which joyfully prevails across the surfaces. Complex colors are impregnated with past reminiscences and mix with the dust of village passageways and Egyptian alleys. Spaces are employed in a way that makes them open to interpretation as a result of the interaction between their multiple symbolism and images we have stored in our memories from both the distant and recent past. Sometimes Husseini uses geometrical forms that are shaped through a network of harmonious relations resulting from the unity of the image, the symbols latent within it, and color formations on each surface. This unity is particularly demonstrated in the link between dancing female figures and the spaces that result from their different degrees of proximity. This effect is enhanced by the background which reminds us that Husseini is after all a top-notch graphic artist. Different components blend together to provide a series of descriptive snapshots. This is exemplified by demarcating black lines, geometrical spaces at the depth of backgrounds which acquire a coarse texture similar to that of worn-out walls in old houses, and the clothes his subjects wear. All those components merge in one harmonious world in which the forcefulness of sketches is combined with the energy and freshness for which Husseini is known.
Works of art that are rich with symbols and that are usually characterized by open endings provide viewers with endless possibilities and multiple interpretations. These in turn could affect viewers’ approaches as they drive them to explore other aesthetic criteria and to come up with new visions. In fact, Husseini’s work gave me a new perspective as I delved into the various meanings each painting offered and contemplated that world of unique endings.
By . Heba el Hawari