In a small village in Minya Governorate called Zawyet Sultan, an artist was born by the name of Hassan El Shark. The self-taught Egyptian artist has had his paintings internationally recognised by the likes of The Express Tribune because they reflect the simplicity and beauty of village life.
What’s really interesting is how El Shark forms his own mixtures of colours using natural elements such as spices from his local spice shop in the village where he was born and raised.
He told the Express Tribune, “The making of colours is a very simple process. I did not come up with it myself. I took it from the creator’s world, from nature, a little from the mountains and the greenery, and then I made the material that fixes the colours”. And interestingly enough, Director of Cairo’s Kortoba Art Gallery, Mohamed El-Gebaly, said that the use of natural elements is what helps a painting live a long healthy life, allowing it to last for thousands of years!
German art critic Ursula Schernig was the first to discover the artist, and soon after, she organised an exhibition in Cairo, and another in Europe where all his paintings were sold.
He first started painting as a child using palm tree fibre. The artist draws his inspiration from Egyptian village life, in some he features cats, chickens, palm trees, market stalls, fish, feluccas, men with moustaches, and women carrying large jars on their heads; as well as the ancient Khamsa palm symbol that is known to ward off the “evil eye”.
Egypt and Europe weren’t the only regions where El Shark’s work was featured; it was also shown in exhibitions held in Kuwait, Palestine, and Lebanon.
By Dina Khafagy