The gallery of the Cairo Opera House has a reputation for driving artists away; professional contemporary Egyptian artists avoid even attending openings there.

What contributed to this reputation, which dates back to the early 90s, is the impossible working hours that are apparently modified according to the security office working hours.

Also, the minimum period of time for any visual art exhibition is two weeks, and in professional art galleries around the world including Egypt is three weeks, but at the Opera House gallery exhibits tend to last a bit less than a week.

These factors combine with a concern about the amount of non-professional works and the scandal between one of the directors and a promising young woman photographer, Samah Al Leithy, last year when she was barred from entering the premises, to make the place unwelcoming.

However, this past week, I was surprised to see an interesting exhibition there. Near and Far is the title given to the series of realist paintings of Marilyn Batte; I recall having seen one of her shows over a year ago at the Cairo Atelier. Batte exhibits 48 of her medium sized oils on canvas.

Some of the works are really successful, especially the scenes with boats and seascapes. Older works with bamboo chairs playing with contrasts of shadows and light are quite excellent, in fact better than many more recent ones.
  Hafez, Khaled "Galleries in Egypt have a story to tell." Middle East Times 7-13 Mar. 1997: 16.