Living in the area of Sayeda Zeinab brought El-Gazzar into constant contact with congregations of Sufis who would gather together to commemorate saints. On feast days men would carry banners and flags, whilst others would sway in ecstasy to the beat of the drum. Feast days brought muscians, magicians and circus peformers. On normal days superstitious crowds would gather at the shrines of Sayeda Zeinab and El-Hussein, with amulets and talismans, seeking help and protection.
El-Gazzar observed the behaviour of the crowds and of dervishes, magicians and also the con-men who were also in attendance. The atmosphere at such gatherings was intense- thick with incense, chanting and the sacrifice of animals.
El-Gazzar was fascinated by the myths and the blurring of the real and the unreal, and the various manifestations of ritual- exorcisms, moulids and seances. By focusing on these he addresses a side of our personalities that many of us would rather suppress- fatalistic tendencies and the urge to finding metaphysical explanations- that we all share to some extent regardless of faith, culture or the age into which we are born. Thus his art which superficially seems grounded in a particular part of Egyptian culture, in fact has universal resonance.
El-Gazzar expresses in his paintings the gloom of the folk characters he encounters in everyday life, the anguish they feel as subjects to the weight of their inherited traditions. His paintings do not glorify superstition, rather they expose what to him is the quackery of con-men which had infected society with lethargy of spirit and mind.
The present work shows a typically bizarre scene- a surreal and nonsensical ceremony in a setting filled with symbolic detail.