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Ihab Shaker: Zorba the Egyptian
His last exhibition, mid-March to mid-April, was a continuation of his last
year's exhibition, a juxtaposition of contradictions, illustrating the contrast
between local themes and modern approach, between childlike spontaneity and
reasoned control, between realistic vision and surrealistic whims, between
authentic embodiment and convoluted simplification bordering on the abstract,
between mocking exaggeration and contemplative perception.
The curious thing is that Ihab Shaker weaves through his drawings with the
sharp end of colored pens, a process requiring time and patience only the
hopelessly devoted can summon. The work is sometimes evocative of the needlework
of the tent makers. Like conjurors' tricks, his work sends you onto a path
of exploration, where you feel impelled to trace the course of his pen, the
stitches of his invisible needle.
You can actually draw parallels between Ihab's work and much of the ancient
handicraft, although Shaker is forever a master of individuality and innovation.
Despite the fact that Ihab's genius draws heavily upon his technical skills,
which he has hewn to such a delicacy that color and texture merge, as if in
a blurry horizon, his world owns a mysterious mythical dimension, a sensual
lust for life.
Let's call this Zorbian existentialism, a doctrine by which man must live
in the moment and take his fill of it, a state where questions should be trimmed
down, so that eternity may seep into our diminished lives.
He sings and dances, plays and takes risks, loves and soars in enchantment,
but remains Egyptian in heart and soul. Shaker uses simple lines, wavy strands,
and colored slides, combining them to create an integral structure that is
hard to disentangle or leave, once you set your foot on its trail. His is
a journey into the world of oral mythology, stripped from words, but alive
with numerous intimations.
By Izz al-Din Naguib, art critic
Al-Hilal, June 2002
© Copy Rights 2003