The Lowbrow Aesthetics on the Trigger

May Kosba uncovers the harborage of counter-culture in Egypt and the Middle East

If creativity was a mortal it would have long been vanished and left us with a royal blockade of emotions and ideas swaying back and forth between black and white and a few clouds of grey. Yet through the darkest and brightest of the two worlds creativity thrives with motion and ideas bringing out in the open the sleeping layers of beauty inside every one of us, each in their own way.

Creativity often defined as art; it is mostly how artistic a man can be to send the message across with less conflict and ample zeal. It is rather the talent of harnessing the rigidness of rejection, diversity, and mix-ups into being able to stack it in a colorful rara avis.

Flattering it is to think that there is an artist engraved deep inside every one of us. You can be problem solving artist, teacher artist, tree trimmer artist – as you can be a black, white, yellow, or brown artist.

Art falls among the nouns which have no home, no color but definitely ripe with taste and the need to utilize your senses – not the usual five senses, it is however the sense of appreciating art and the will to preserve an omnific blessing.

So what about true art?

How many of us with too little knowledge of art stood in awe reading and analyzing a painter’s work? Too many observations of different perspectives wax up the painting’s territory with a secret wish of possessing half the painter’s talent to command the brush bend in the most paradoxical forms succumbing to the highs and lows of our imageries and stories.

How many of us apart from our appreciation of art plucked up to purchase a painting and have it exclusively hanging on our walls? We might not be looking at an insurmountable amount of buyers; however, the appreciation is undeniable.

Adam Mourad and Omar Ozlap two young men from Egypt, their passion for art replaces the need for an art background to be the driving force behind their project. As much as they value art and aspire to contribute to elevate the aesthetics spirit they bring to the scene a familiar type of art to some of our ears and eyes offering a vast stage for street art to flourish in the capital.

Articulate Baboon is our heroes’ gateway to contemporary and street art to help Egyptian graffiti artists embark on a journey of putting an end to playing art and growing a generation who takes it more seriously.

Such journey shall include artists like Hany Rashed a well established Egyptian contemporary artist recently exhibited his radical side through ‘Cartoon War’ exhibition under Articulate Baboon umbrella in Desinopolis 6th of October branch in November 2010. His work shows ardent conflicting cultures in the most eccentric radical yet creative and attractive form.

As much as Egyptian contemporary, comic  and street inspired pop artists are targeted to showcase the Egyptian culture and its transformations through a bouquet of contemporary art schools in Egypt – AB is also concerned with introducing international graffiti artists in Egypt and to Egyptian artists stemming from a strong belief in creating a forum for international and Egyptian artists to communicate and also examine the Western perception of the Egyptian culture, as shown in ‘The Weight: The golden soul’ exhibition by Sam Flores the legendary American graffiti artist at Amuse Zamalek branch early December 2010.

“It is always fun to see what people focus on in Egypt.” Said Mourad

This undergoes quite an interesting process which requires international artists to pay a visit to the country in advance so that they can merge whatever they grasp of the Egyptian culture with theirs to form a comprehensive dose of art with a domestic cultural flavor and also preserve the authenticity of their work as Mourad asserted.

On the other hand, Articulate Baboon plans to provide talented Egyptian artists the opportunity to showcase their talent and express the culture internationally.

Graffiti between acceptance and vandalism

Street art is street inspired pop art established in public places mostly referred to as graffiti. The vagaries of graffiti manifest in its infinite creativity, colors, thick lines, raw messages, and more specifically the target audience who happen to be the public and what basically puts artists on the trigger. In addition to the little nuances and tricks which separate artists and ideas from each other, which is another good reason international artists are offered a forum in Egypt to enrich the graffiti scene.

“Graffiti’s reputation abroad is changing. People grew more accepting to graffiti as fine art when in the Middle East it is considered rough and vandalism.” Mourad said.

Inspite of the huge number of talented Egyptian artists in the country, too little do we know and see of the true graffiti art on the streets. We might see scribbles on the elevator, the school walls, bathroom walls and doors, classroom desks, etc… This only shows that both self-expression and graffiti have played a fair role in our life. But some had no clue this was graffiti and others did not take it up a notch.

“Graffiti is what the country needs at this time. It is a nice way to express yourself.  There’s a lot of talent and it’s a shame all the art that comes out is the same kind of art” said Ozlap.

Articulate Baboon aspires to take the lead of empowering graffiti art in the country and the region being located in the heart of Zamalek, the art galleries mecca.

“In 5-10even 15 years all art galleries will be doing the same” Ozlap said.

The artist not the gallery

Articulate Baboon’s goal is to reach out to graffiti and street inspired pop artists by first offering artists a forum to showcase their work by seeking them out and urging them to push their boundaries to be in tune with AB’s work, and also teaming up with the nonprofit sector offering artists a wider space for learning and picking up on all the new techniques through training workshops to be able to sneak out on the street in old neighborhoods and paint, as well as merging them with the international art scene so that they are connected and learning.

AB has an undying faith in artists – Mourad and Ozlap strongly believe artists are the back bone of galleries.

“The artist is more important than the gallery. Without the artist there is no gallery. Galleries have to understand the importance of artists.” Ozlap clarifies.  

Artists are free spirits. They can do all the work from home but as Ozlap says “There’s no place for them to sell on a gallery level.” It seems that well established galleries only target well established artists leaving rising artists with no space to be seen or sold.

Mourad and Ozlap seem to have scanned the art scene in Egypt and as much as they are trying to establish a certain brand and certain identity, they are concerned with boosting the graffiti art scene through empowering rising artists and make the Egyptians familiar with this type of art.

Articulate Baboon wants to “form a little niche in the market” Mourad adds and in order to be able to do that there has to be a continuous financial support for artists to keep pouring creativity and for rising galleries to continue to sponsor them. “It is costly to run a gallery like that” Ozlap said

Financial support cannot be provided by a word of mouth or a pat on the back, it is rather crucial that art can be dealt with like any other commodity especially intellectual commodities such as books. Books are no less than paintings. If a writer’s goal is to be read and preserved – the artist goal cannot be any different.

Writers and artists are the two faces of the same coin – they need to be nurtured and supported emotionally and financially to be able to survive. Both are the documentators of the country’s history and the people’s psychology. They are needed, for their work lives long.

The lowbrow aesthetics meet Egyptian genetics

Our Pharaoh ancestors had long preceded the world in creating a documentation revolution on the walls of old Egypt, found in their tombs. It can be referred to as an early graceful perception of graffiti which gives us enough purpose to revive our ancestors’ art work and continue to enrich our country’s cultural scene.

If you are an artist go out there and show up at Articulate Baboon’s door and shine. They can be found on this link and easily contacted via e-mail or at either Designopolis or Amuse locations in 6th of October and Zamalek.


The Lowbrow Aesthetics on the Trigger – Crystal Issue Greens P. 26 pdf


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