Nada Baraka - 'A Season in Hell' @ Gypsum Gallery, Cairo

Contemporary and Old Art Reviews

Nada Baraka - 'A Season in Hell' @ Gypsum Gallery, Cairo

Postby CAP » Mon Dec 14, 2015 11:50 am

I’m recommending this one on the strength of a single JPEG, courtesy of a Re-title feed, for its scorching palette and slurpy, casual handling. As it turns out, the work is by a young Egyptian artist, participating in a modest group show in Cairo, which makes it all the better for our worldwide ambit, but really I just go on the pictures. The artist is Nada Baraka, now based in London after completing a Masters at Central/St Martins last year and seemingly without a gallery yet in London. Still, with Re-title in her corner, that may soon change. Given Re-title’s close relation to Beers, who knows - maybe the evil queen Kurt will grant her a post-grad wish? :mrgreen:

In the meantime, she does have a website and something on, so I could see ‘Untitled 2015’ (acrylic/canvas 125 X 100cm - the work in question) was not a one-off. Nada’s been working at it. Actually, when I first saw the Saatchi link I thought it was to Saatchi Gallery and I thought "Oh no! Don't say he's beaten me to it, again...". Luckily, not so far. Anyway, she seems to be working on the blend from mechanical to organic via the figurative/abstract axis and it’s easy enough to pick out figurative elements – I kept picking up on a person-as-food trope, that was probably just me - but intriguingly, not quite the space they inhabit, not quite the method, at least from a JPEG.

I was reminded a bit of Fiona Rae’s stuff from the late 80s, not just the range of gesture/geometry but the colour ground Baraka uses to similarly arrange everything upon. It works, but after a while it can get predictable. Not that I think Fi-Fi would ever have chanced those screaming pinks, but all the same I did wonder if Rae had been doing any mentoring at Central. Can’t find any evidence of that, though. :ugeek: Could be just one of those things. Anyway, I actually prefer Baraka, for her more freewheeling, unfussy approach. With Rae, I could always see how they were done (I know that’s a terribly painterish thing to say, like Lucien Freud bitching about Soutine) and there was always just a little too much fiddling, one or two ideas too many. Alas, that trait later came to dominate. But Baraka is nowhere near as straight forward or tentative. There’s talk of the usual ‘collage’ of materials which doesn’t get us very far unless preparatory sketches are in evidence, and then, me being me, I did wonder if the sketch wasn’t digital? At any rate it’s hard to see how these were done, or just what the method is, but the feel is refreshing. 8-)

Whoops! :oops:
After 4 months the artist has pointed out that my link to her painting Untitled (2015) was wrong, so I've corrected that and I'm adding another work, that has almost as dashing a touch. She also has a page at the Mashrabia Gallery in Cairo worth checking out. :)
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