Home is where the art is
Dr Weaam El Masry, co-founder of the Easel and Camera Gallery, talks to ArtScoops about how the art world has benefited from the pandemic-related trend to breathe new life into both indoor and outdoor living spaces
Weaam El Masry
While Covid-19 has taken its toll on much of the global art industry, the Easel and Camera Gallery has gone from strength to strength in recent months, with its sizeable, scenic outdoor space and a strong digital presence enabling it to meet rising demand from both seasoned collectors and newcomers looking for works to decorate their homes and gardens.
“It’s been a privilege to continue welcoming visitors to our gallery, with the outdoor area proving particularly popular, since it offers a safe, reassuring setting,” its co-founder, Dr Weaam Ahmed El Masry, said. “In fact, we’ve decided to use the external space on a permanent basis to showcase a selection of our wonderful art.”
Weaam believes that more time spent at home during the pandemic due to lockdowns and working remotely has helped to fuel interest in making decorative purchases, such as art. “People have been thinking, especially, about breathing new life into their exteriors, like the dining area, for example, so that they can host family and friends, which could explain why sculptures have been selling well,” she noted.
The contemporary gallery’s outdoor space benefits from its expansive and picturesque setting in the Dreamland Golf Club, 6 October City, Giza, making it ideal for accommodating a wide range of art, including the large-size sculptures which have numbered among the bestsellers in recent months. “Online collaborations and a strong social media following also helped us to boost sales in 2020,” Weaam explained.
An Egyptian, Cairo-based, multi-award-winning visual artist in her own right, whose work has been widely exhibited, Weaam is also a highly respected curator and academic. She currently lectures at the Faculty of Arts & Design at MSA University and has an impressive professional track record, which includes a spell as the only female commissioner to date of the Youth Salon for Young Artists at the Egyptian Ministry of Culture – a post she held while still only in her thirties. In a separate role as Assistant Commissioner of the Media Art Forum, she curated several international workshops, helping to raise the profile of Egyptian contemporary art abroad.
Easel and Camera Gallery is a family project which combines Weaam’s art industry knowledge with the commerce and marketing expertise of Walid Ahmed El Masry, her brother and the project’s founder and investment advisor.
The gallery opened its doors in 2008, with the aim of presenting an exciting range of high-quality art by contemporary artists across a space spanning almost 37 metres. “We wanted to focus on serious art, rather than works that were only of commercial interest,” Weaam explained. “It was never our intention to showcase art to please the masses – we were more interested in educating collectors and introducing them to exciting, emerging artists.”
Their mission has enabled the gallery owners to shine a spotlight on a long list of talented young artists, while also promoting and exhibiting internationally recognised names by their side both locally and abroad, and at in-person and virtual events.
Weaam El Masry
Today, visitors will find a carefully curated, thought-provoking selection of works that includes pieces by some of the country’s best-known sculptors and painters, including the legendary late artist Adam Henein, Abdelaziz Saab, Ahmed Abdel Wahab, Mohamed Abla, Reda Abdelsalam, Mohamed Abouelnaga and of course Weaam herself. The gallery has also begun exhibiting pieces by renowned regional artists, including the Lebanese painter and sculptor Bassam Kyrillos.
Asked how she believes the pandemic has influenced the work of the artists represented by the gallery, Dr Weaam said the impact was evident on various levels, ranging from the conscious to the subconscious. “Interestingly, in some cases we see moves among artists to combine their thoughts on the current situation with their heritage, by harking back to the golden era of Egyptian movies, with gloves and masks in evidence,” she said.
One name to look out for here is Mohamed Bassuony, whose intriguing work is fast becoming a talking point across the region and features in an exhibition at Easel and Camera to be launched in March.
Weaam also believes that she, like many others, have enjoyed the luxury of being able to spend more time in the studio, which has helped her to focus on her work more deeply.
“It’s not a coincidence that I’ve found myself switching from drawing to painting more recently,” she noted. “While I remain focused on my topic of interest – the female body, women’s roles and their relationships - there’s no doubt that the shift in tempo brought about by Covid has had an effect on my work and that of others.”