Portraits with masks

In 50 paintings and sketches, Mohamed Bassuony shows that everyone is equal before fear

Not only visitors but also portraits wear masks at the Easel and Camera contemporary art gallery in the Egyptian capital of Cairo. The exhibition Pandemic by Mohamed Bassuony reminds us, with some irony and sense of humour, about the profound changes brought on by the year 2020.

In 50 paintings and sketches, the artist explores the mask as an expression and a symbol of the circumstance that everyone is equal before fear.

“We are all the same now. Our faces are covered in light blue, white or even colourful pieces of fabric from the eyes down. Our hands are protected by gloves and there are sanitisers everywhere. Everyone looks the same, no doubt. That theme or image has turned into a universal language and a universal religion, which managed to bring the world together whereas existing languages and religions failed. Fear has become a worldwide religion, while the mask is its bible,” Bassuony says.

In his third solo exhibition, the artist puts masks on the faces of Angela Merkel, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Stalin and even Osama bin Laden. Visitors can also see how Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, Frida Kahlo, Picasso, Mona Lisa and Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man would look like with a mask on. Mohamed Bassuony also reproduces famous paintings as well as scenes from emblematic Egyptian films, adding masks and latex gloves. His own image is not spared the same treatment - one of the largest canvases in the exhibition is a self-portrait.

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