HIGHLIGHTS from Sherin Guirguis’ ‘Bint al Nil’

Sherin Guirguis ‘Here I Have Returned.’ (Supplied)
Updated 07 February 2019

HIGHLIGHTS from Sherin Guirguis’ ‘Bint al Nil’

DUBAI: Sherin Guirguis’ “Bint al Nil” is one of two exhibitions chosen to open the Tahrir Cultural Center at the American University in Cairo this month, which runs until February 28.

‘Here I Have Returned’ (2018)
LA-based, Luxor-born artist Sherin Guirguis has created a body of work intended to honor Doria Shafik, the pioneering Egyptian feminist who founded the Bint Al Nil Movement, which was instrumental in gaining Egyptian women the right to vote.

‘Storming Parliament I’ (2018)
One of a pair of paintings whose paper patterns echo the architecture of the gates outside Egypt’s parliament building. Guirguis has partially covered them in swathes of indigo-blue ink, mirroring the Nile. The title refers to a march on parliament led by Shafik in 1951, leading more than 1,500 women in protest against male dominance in politics.

‘Azbakeya (Will You Welcome Me This Time)’ (2018)
The background pattern of this piece reflects the latticework on the fences around Cairo’s Azbakeya Gardens — the scene of Shafik’s first public address. In a press release for Guirguis’ similar recent exhibit in the US, the artist’s work was described as “crucial, because she is … bringing awareness to histories that will likely fade away.”


With Saudi roots and an Indian heart, Al-Kazi is an act the stage will never forget

Updated 21 February 2019

With Saudi roots and an Indian heart, Al-Kazi is an act the stage will never forget

  • Though an icon in India, few people know about Al-Kazi’s Saudi roots

JEDDAH: India has always been a hub of art and culture. Over the last century, movies emerged as the most expressive cultural medium, and the Indian film industry — commonly known as Bollywood — has since become a powerhouse of world cinema.

One can never do its history justice without mentioning Ebrahim Al-Kazi.

A renowned director and drama teacher, he worked as the director of the prestigious New Delhi-based National School of Drama (NSD) from 1962 to 1977, teaching many well-known future actors and fellow directors, including Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and Rohini Hattangadi. He also founded the Art Heritage Gallery in New Delhi.

Though an Indian icon, however, few people know about Al-Kazi’s Saudi roots. His father, Hamad bin Ali Al-Kazi, was a trader from Unaiza in the Kingdom’s Qassim region, who subsequently settled in Pune, India, where Ebrahim was born in 1925. 

Early on in his career, Al-Kazi worked with the Bombay Progressive Artists Group, which included M.F. Husain, F.N. Souza, S.H. Raza, Akbar Padamsee and Tyeb Mehta, who would all later contribute to the design of his sets.

He worked in India, the US and Europe before becoming the director of the NSD, and later of the Asian Theater Institute, and is credited with staging more than 50 plays in his lifetime. He also contributes to the preservation of Indian cultural history through his Al-Kazi Foundation for the Arts.

In February 2015, Al-Kazi was honored at the second Saudi Film Festival in Dammam. He was later quoted in Arab media sources on his Saudi upbringing: “Our father was a firm believer in our cultural roots that went back to Saudi Arabia, and we spoke only Arabic at home. We had a teacher of Arabic and Islamic studies who came from Saudi Arabia, and lived as part of our family.

“Arab families (in India) did not mix very much with others, but my father had close ties with people other than Arabs,” he added.

Al-Kazi has also won many prestigious Indian awards. He was the first recipient of Roopwedh Pratishthan’s Tanvir Award in 2004 for his contribution to Indian theater, and in 1966 received the Padma Shri award. He won the Padma Bhushan award in 1991, and was given India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2010.