The Gatewood Gallery in the Gatewood studio arts building on campus opened an exhibit of pottery by Egyptian artist Ibrahim Said on November 3. The exhibit features several of his newest pieces, many of which include depiction animals. Similar in style but in different size and shape, these ceramic and stone pieces are extremely detailed but complement one another well, creating a cohesive collection.
Born in Fustat, a region of Cairo, Egypt, Said quickly began learning the art of pottery, as he came from a family of potters. His learning process was profoundly impacted by the culture and traditions of Egypt, and his art is influenced by the work of ancient Egyptians, including dark lines and prominent shapes. His personal creative style is a more subtle reflection of these ideas, and he blends them with more intricate details and softer silhouettes.
Six of the pieces featured in the gallery were similar, as they were ceramic jugs with the same general pattern in different sizes and featuring different animals. The largest of the pieces showed three silhouettes of different species of birds, and the smallest showed a few silhouettes of rabbits in different poses. These jugs were modeled after traditional Islamic jugs with similar intricate details created by carving. However, while the ancient jugs were designed to be both aesthetically pleasing and functional, Said’s creations are only the former.
For these creations, Said’s goal was rooted in preserving history. He wanted to bring the tradition and aesthetic of Islamic jugs back to life and present them in a new way while still remaining true to authentic techniques and styles.
This collection is a medium of reflection on the beauty nature and cyclical rhythms in the natural world. Said has an understanding of cyclical rhythms shows in the patterns that appear in every piece in the exhibit. With the same color scheme and pattern-work on each sculpture, the gallery is extremely streamlined, and the similarities between pieces allow for the differences to truly stand out.
The carvings of animals stand out on each piece, either in cream against dark teal or in dark teal against cream, making each jug unique. On the large jug with pictures of birds, each bird is different, and each bird has a different pattern of details on its wings. This provides contrast to the similarly-sized jug with less detailed silhouettes of elephants, which look similar to one another.
Two pieces in the exhibit stand out, as they are extremely different from the jugs that make up almost all the gallery. One contains three identical shapes lined up vertically on the wall, still in the same vein of pattern and color scheme as the other pieces. The outside of each shape is plain and solidly-colored, while the inside contains the same pattern as the pattern featured around the animals on the jug-shaped pieces. The transfer of similar pattern creates a greater sense of cohesion throughout the exhibit, creating a sense of familiarity in pieces that depart from the central theme of the gallery.
The other piece that stands out is tall and complex, connecting less obviously to the remainder of the collection. It has somewhat of a shiny, metallic finish, which provides contrast against the other works, which are painted ceramic. The shape near the middle of the piece is like the shape of the three smaller sculptures on the wall, giving it a link to the rest of the gallery.
The collection is an intriguing reflection of the cyclical patterns in nature. Each piece has complex pattern-work and demonstrates Said’s great attention to detail in every aspect of pottery.
The exhibit featuring the pottery of Ibrahim Said is available for perusing daily in the Gatewood Gallery in the studio arts building at UNCG through November 30.