With this work, Askalany proves once again his deep passion for animals and, above all, for those hailing from his homeland, the South of Egypt, like the Hippopotamus. Following a solo exhibition held in 2016, where an entire section was dedicated to this animal, represented with anthropomorphic features, representing virtues and vices of the contemporary reality and set in a joyful and irreverent mini-show of small sculptures, here, within the FRTR projects, the hippopotamus achieves real majestic dimensions and at the same time announces its presence in a more ancestral and savage way, presented in a dramatic struggle between two specimens.
Throughout his career as a sculptor, Askalany experimented with different materials, valuing also poor and fragile ones, such as terracotta and palm leaves. In 2009 he had already recycled tyres to create a 3,5 metre long disturbing human-shaped figure lying on the ground, The sleeper. In this new artwork he refines his technique in assembling tyres and succeeds in creating perfectly the wet-skin effect of the animal.
Despite their appearance seeming extremely realistic at first sight, the hippos, with their gentle curves, convey a sense of familiarity and invite the public to touch them, lean on their bodies, climb them and interact with them as if they were huge toys or the cheerful inhabitants of a fantastic playground.
Born in 1978 in Nag Hammadi, Upper Egypt, Askalany currently lives and works in Cairo. His works, produced with simple techniques, show an explicit connection with traditional materials and craft methods associated with the ancient cultures of Egypt. Characteristic of Askalany’s works, whose subjects include human figures and animals inspired by his native town, are the aesthetic forms that place an emphasis on both structure and volume. Askalany’s work challenges the very boundaries associated with the notion of what is perceived as crafts and the arts, and manages to respond and contribute to the complexity of contemporary artistic practice. Askalany participated in various important solo and group exhibitions worldwide such as Mashrabia Gallery , Cairo, Egypt; British Council, Cairo, Egypt; Le parc de la villatte, Paris, France; The Arts academy, Rome, Italy; Holland Circle theatre, Netherland, the 4th Rome and Mediterranean countries Biennale, Sarajevo. Besides, he represented Egypt at the 2009 Venice Biennale.