An interesting cross-cultural exhibit is currently on display at the Salon 94 and Antiquarium Ltd. booths at Frieze Masters in London. This exhibit showcases the work of modern artist Keith Haring and ancient Egyptian artifacts. Salon 94 and Antiquarium Ltd. are two New York galleries that teamed up in the London location to exhibit this exploration of cultural and temporal juxtaposition titled Egyptomania. The contemporary arts were all influenced by the style, color scheme, vibrancy, and richness of the ancient Egyptian arts. The main modern piece is a large blue and gold ‘pyramid’ with ‘hieroglyphics’ emblazoned upon it; the ‘hieroglyphics’ are cartoon-like dancers spiraling over the bright surface. The piece draws on many traditional elements of Egyptian art for inspiration; colors (bright blue and gold), shape (classic pyramidal form), and composition and subject (renditions of human forms, lacking in perspective and much detail but conveying ideals nonetheless.) As noted in the article, displaying Haring’s work in such a small exhibit with ancient artifacts allows for more detailed investigation into the ways in which his work was influenced by the ancient Egyptians.
I think that it is interesting to see how ancient cultures still influence art today. Especially that of ancient Egyptian cultures. Its incredible how in the 1920s, the British were drawing on the archeological discoveries from pharaoh’s tombs for their fashion and their jewelry, and now contemporary artists are still drawing on the rich gold and jeweled style to influence their 21st century art.
The question that leaps to my brain is how do the Egyptians feel about this exhibit? Do they feel that the reinterpretations of their ancient artifacts are in anyway belittling their culture or spiritual practices? Do they feel that Haring is honoring them or making a mockery of them? Interesting questions to ponder.