Setareh Shahbazi
Spectral Days

Gypsum Gallery, Cairo

October 2, 2013

Setareh Shahbazi
Spectral Days

29 October–29 November

Gypsum Gallery
5A Bahgat Ali Str., Apt. 12
Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt

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Gypsum Gallery is delighted to announce the launch of its new contemporary art space established in Cairo in 2013. The gallery features an international, cross-disciplinary program of solo and group exhibitions, publications, limited artist editions and occasional off-site interventions. Eight artists living and working between Alexandria, Amman, Basel, Beirut, Berlin, Cairo and Tehran are represented by Gypsum including Doa Aly, Mahmoud Khaled, Maha Maamoun, Basim Magdy, Mona Marzouk, Tamara Al-Samerai, Setareh Shahbazi and Ala Younis. We are thrilled to be engaged with artists whose rigorous and singular art practice varies in medium, form and approach. 

Gypsum Gallery is founded by Aleya Hamza, an independent curator based in Cairo, whose projects and exhibitions have been featured internationally in Alexandria, Amsterdam, Beirut, Berlin, Bonn, Budapest, Cairo, London, Odense and Rabat. She co-curated the third and fourth editions of PhotoCairo, and her most recent exhibition was on show at the Tate Modern in London and at the Contemporary Image Collective (CIC) in Cairo in 2012/2013. The gallery is based in a converted residential apartment in the neighbourhood of Zamalek, Cairo. The official opening of the space is on the 29th of October in 2013, starting with a solo show of recent works by Berlin-based artist Setareh Shahbazi titled Spectral Days

Spectral Days is a deeply personal project that delves into a loaded and often-painful family history. It conjures up memories of Shahbazi and her family’s exile from Iran following the revolution and of her eventual return back to the land she was once forced to leave. It is an introspective look into the past that started in 2009 when Shahbazi began her forage into thousands of family photographs retrieved from her ancestral home in Teheran. A long process of scanning, cropping, layering and manipulating ensued. The outcome is Spectral Days, a series of more than forty haunting images in various sizes that form a stylistic departure from her signature comic strip visual aesthetic—a collection of photomontages that resides in the hazy transition between the past and its remembrance. 

Cool flat surface has given way to a dense compression of translucent layers. The vivid palette of Spectral Days modulates between midnight and blazing sunset. The exception is a handful of soft rose-tinted pictures of group family photos, foliage and abstract color field prints. The overall effect is delicate and bewildering. 

As personal as the project is to the artist, she manages to take a step back and quietly question the sanctity of the photographic medium both as an artistic form and as a record of the past. Shahbazi’s handling of the source material is irreverent. The scanning is rough; the image is often pixelated. Fragments of pictures are duplicated within the same frame, while positive and negative images are used interchangeably. 

Following Spectral Days, Gypsum will be holding a painting exhibit by Egyptian artist Doa Aly in December 2013 titled The House of Sleep, based on her interest in notions of lust and mythology. It is the first painting exhibition for the artist since 2007, made up of a collection of large-scale paintings. 

The first show in 2014 will be by Iraqi-born Lebanese artist Tamara Al-Samerai. It is the first show in Egypt by Al-Samerai and will feature artwork using a mix of media. 

Gypsum Gallery is pleased to announce that the opening of the space in October 2013 is accompanied by the release of three newly commissioned limited artist editions by Basim Magdy, Mahmoud Khaled and Taha Belal.