Yesterday, we made it our mission to go check out the beautiful work of Dr Riham Afifi’s art exhibition “Pictures and Tales from the Land of Legends”, held in Picasso Art gallery in Zamalek. Featuring a collection of paintings and sketches illustrating the land, culture and icons of Armenia, the exhibition was so magical that we felt like we were truly taken on a tour in Armenia. The sense of belonging that the paintings of Dr. Riham Afifi has stirred made us quite curious about why she particularly chose Armenia and what statement she was trying to make by this exhibition.
With teary eyes filled with passion, Dr Afifi did not hesitate to answer our questions and explain to us the reason behind her admiration towards Armenia. She told us that she fell in love with Armenia when she engaged with the Armenian community and heard their stories firsthand. She realized how patriotic these people are towards their nationality, despite all the difficulties that their nation had faced. She added that it was very inspiring that the Armenian people kept their identity intact whether on a cultural level or a patriotic level, especially because it was the first time she has ever witnessed that sense of belonging and devotion. Dr Riham stated that seeing that level of patriotism and nationalism made her start to question the concept of nationalism in the whole world, and how all nations have to take the Armenian nation as a symbol of patriotism. She believes that all nations should hold onto their identity and that people should start thinking of ways by which they could be an asset to their nation, even if they don’t believe that their nation is adding value to their lives. She found that the Egyptian people might lack this quality and that Armenia could be their guide to achieving this sense of nationalism. According to her, the Armenian people have been through so much, but they chose to learn from their history and to stick by their nation, and that is exactly what Dr Afifi wishes for the Egyptian people to learn through her art. She wishes that there comes a time where we stop mocking or making fun of our country and all the predicaments we have been through, and start embracing it and thinking of ways of making Egypt prosperous again.
The exhibition was truly beautiful; the paintings helped us dig into the Armenian lands, heritage, history and style. I think we can all agree that the Armenian culture, seen through Dr Afifi’s paintings, was a ringing bell alarming us once more of the importance of one’s love towards their country and how patriotism is a key factor to the success of any nation. Finally, we would like to leave you with a quote by William Saroyan which Dr Riham believes perfectly describes the Armenian story she showcased in her exhibition.