By Nii B. Andrews.

Since its inception in 1984, the Cairo Biennale has been acknowledged as one of the most important cultural events in the Middle East and Africa. 

Almost all the successive artistic directors have expanded its reach into the global international arena. The Biennale is produced by the Fine Arts Sector of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture.

This year’s 13th Biennale entitled  “Eyes East Bound”, curated by Ehab El Labban, opened on 10 June; it will run for two months.

It marks the restart of the Biennale after a 10 year hiatus.

El Labban has promised to showcase a far more artistically diverse, inclusive, and socially relevant exhibition that looks “past our traditional partners and standard mode of thinking.”

Ajarb Bernard Ategwa (Cameroon). Credit: Henry Woo.

Ten African countries have national pavilions at the festival.

They are Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. 

This is more than the eight African countries with national pavilions at the current Venice Biennale.

DAY DREAMER: William Adzraku, oil on canvas, 90 x 60 cm, Private Collection.

Cairo boasts a depth of artistic practice and a large body of art professionals willing to support its Biennale.

Multiple parallel exhibitions are also being organised by Cairo’s dozens of galleries and art centers such as Gypsum, SOMA, Darb 1718 and Zamalek Art Gallery.

Palace of Arts – opening night of Cairo Biennale 2019. Picture credit Henry Woo.

This will provide exposure for the output of young and emerging Egyptian artists who often provide an important window into the underlying turbulence of society and marginalized perspectives. 

Eighty artists representing 50 countries are participating in the main Biennale with the artistic works of the main festival hosted in the Palace of Arts, Aisha Fahmy Palace, the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art and the Zamalek Art Complex.

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