Egypt uprising art brightens Cairo, tempts buyers

Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:52am EDT
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By Shaimaa Fayed

CAIRO (Reuters) - A flowering of Egyptian art since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak is adding color to the capital Cairo and an upswing in business at the city's galleries, as the pride, anger and optimism of a long-frustrated generation plays out on canvas.

Politically-inspired photography, graphic design and graffiti sprayed or stencilled on walls, fences, bridges and fly-overs have flourished since the 18-day uprising toppled the autocratic leader.

Across Cairo, faces of protesters killed during the uprising are immortalized on concrete, fists are shown breaking free from ropes and ancient mummies scream "I am free!."

Much of the street art reflects pride in the movement that united Egyptians across class and religion to put an end to decades of calcified politics and a gaping rich-poor divide.

In Nasr City, a beautiful woman is spray-painted on a fence surrounding a plot of disused land, her dress in the flowing colors of Egypt's red, white and black national flag. Further west in Mohandiseen, an imam and a priest are shown standing hand in hand on the side of one building.

Elsewhere it is darker, angrier. One image painted on a disused building shows a man writhing in chains wrapped tight around his body.

Other graffiti shows anger toward Mubarak and his family -- the former leader is depicted scowling arrogantly or with his head in a noose -- or anxiety at whether Egypt's military rulers really want to deliver the country to democratic civilian rule.

An army officer sketched on a wall in a busy street asks passers-by "man antum?" (who are you?), an allusion to Muammar Gaddafi's disdainful question aimed at Libyan rebels, implying that the military council holds Egyptians in similar contempt.   Continued...