CAIRO: The third Arts-Mart Gallery Exhibition was held Tuesday in the Nile Ballroom at the Four Seasons Hotel in Garden City, attracting international and local media as well as professional and well-established figures in the arts scene.
The one-day exhibition showed more than 200 pieces by prominent Egyptian artists.
“The Arts-Mart exhibition is a very nice opportunity to see the artist, walk with them and receive feedback about their works and about other artists as well. In addition it is a good place to go and see what is available on the art market today,” artist and one of three Arts-Mart partners Lina Mowafy told The Cairo Post.
Arts-Mart is an online platform for Egyptian artists to sell their work, but has hosted three physical exhibitions downtown since its 2012 launch.
“The first exhibition was an exercise for everyone; it was a very good starting point for people to be introduced to the artists and to see what is available in the Egyptian arts scene,” Mowafy added.
The winter exhibition was held last December and included well-known artists like Omar El-Nagdi, Britt Boutros Ghali, Assem Abdel Fattah and Ibrahim El-Tanbouli, as well as lesser-known, up-and-coming artists like Miriam Hathout.
“We try to make the website as accessible as possible and as easy as possible for artists,” Arts-Mart partner Dina Shaaban told The Cairo Post.
“We seek to be very accessible, there are paintings that cost only 400 EGP ($56) and others that cost 200,000 EGP or more. We wanted to show a collection of the arts available in the Egyptian market, not targeting a certain class, and trying to show that what is present is a complete walkthrough of Egyptian contemporary arts,” Mowafy said, adding that they pride themselves on transparency and equal pricing for all clients..
The transition from the physical to the online market for the artists required persuasion from the founders of Arts-Mart, who said at first it was a challenge.
“From the beginning, Arts-Mart was a new concept for the artists as they were not putting their art online in terms of selling, but they wanted to show a case in their art work,” Mowafy said, adding that when Arts-Mart was launched in 2012, the economic situation was not strong, especially for the artists.
“We are in a country that has a weak infrastructure; we wanted the art market to move faster and we needed people be more accessible to computers,” Shabaan added.
Shabaan said that the artists of Art-Marts come from different governorates, and the event serves as a forum for the artists to meet. She added that a number of the artists have found more opportunities in other galleries and have hosted their own solo shows.
The exhibition included paintings of young artists side-by-side with works by well-known Egyptian artists including Mohamed Abla, Ibrahim ElTanbouli, Taher Abdel Azeem, Mohamed El Damarawy, Mohamed Rabie, Britt Boutros Ghalia, Ramadan Abdel Metemed and many others.
“[To me] Arts-mart is not a gallery but a market; you have many artists at the same time, the exhibition is held in a very short period which is a great thing so art-lovers know that it is not lasting, and in one day you can have a look and decide,” prominent Egyptian artist Mohamed Abla told The Cairo Post.
“From the beginning I supported the idea, as I knew it would be a successful one,” Abla said, adding that he hopes to see a good arts market in Egypt.
Abla added, “Arts-Mart is developing, and it is seeing real progress. This year, the displays look better than the past one.”
“I started participating with Arts-Mart from the beginning and I was very happy about this contact; I found a company that thinks in a new way,” prominent Egyptian artist Ibrahim El-Tanbouli told The Cairo Post.
Tanbouli added, “I have been working with them for a year now… every time there is a step towards development.”
“We have the state’s halls that have their own systemic routine, private galleries that search only for the name [of the artists] that may sell, and Arts Mart which is a third trend that presents both the trading and artistic level,” Tanbouli added.
Arts Mart, he said, made the arts a source of income and allowed people to see from different perspectives, and a new audience started to show up for the contemporary arts that used to buy only older paintings.
“Arts mart is a new experience for me, and a completely different event,” Luxor-based artist and sculptor Ramadan Abdel Metemed told The Cairo Post.
“The one-day exhibition is a great thing, a great interaction with art buyers, it makes them curious to come and look at the paintings,” Abdel Metemed said.
“I am really happy that I joined the Arts-Mart team, something that we lacked in Egypt for a long time; we have a problem in marketing the artwork and spreading the culture of visiting galleries and meeting the artists,” Fine Arts Professor Taher Abdel Azeem told The Cairo Post.
“For the first time, you find such a place with a great standard, in a respectable, organized way,” Abdel Azeem added.
Arts-Mart was launched in 2012 by Mowafy, Shaaban and Hatem Zaazou as an online gallery.
“The point of Arts-Mart is making art accessible from every perspective, the whole point is to widen the client base and we succeeded in doing it honestly,” Shaaban said.
The site currently lists about 500 works.