CAIRO, Egypt, Through 56 colourful paintings, hanging on the classy walls of Horizons Hall, attached to Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Museum, in downtown Cairo, Egyptian internationally-recognised painter, Mohamed Abla, told ancient Chinese tales and highlighted China’s Silk Road revival initiative, to visitors of his art gallery, dubbed “On the Silk Road.”

“The purpose of the exhibition is to show that I, as an artist, am interested in this topic, which led me to read a lot about China and its civilisation,” the renowned artist told Xinhua, while standing near the largest and most colourful painting at the gallery.

Proposed by Chinese President, Xi Jinping, in 2013, the Belt and Road initiative, which is highly supported by Egypt, seeks to revive ancient trade routes to link China with over 60 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe, through the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.

“The exhibition is an invitation to the whole world, because China’s proposed Silk Road revival is a cultural, economic project and the relations between China and the Arab world and the West is part of the idea,” Abla explained.

On one of the walls of Horizons Hall, a painting features a ship, with a couple of people on board swinging in the middle of a rough sea, with blue and white waves on a windy day, while an angel in the sky stretches hands towards the ship.

“The angel represents hope for their rescue, which is a life theme, as life has a lot of ups and downs, but there is always hope in the end,” Abla explained, while pointing to the picture.

The artist, who has a lot of fans, including professional and amateur artists in Egypt and abroad, said that, most of his paintings at the exhibition are inspired by tales and myths from Chinese culture, “for China is one of the world’s oldest civilisations, like Egypt.”

Another painting shows two stone-made knights riding two stone horses, each being on top of a broken tall column, while they both try to reach each other for a fight. “They are not convinced they are made of stones and they insist to engage in a war, just like what happens in real life today.”

Abla said, even the colours and papers he used for the displayed paintings were all Chinese-made. “I was looking for a thinner, lighter kind of paper for my paintings of this gallery, and I found that the Chinese papers were what I wanted. In addition, the pigment of Chinese-made oil is very high.”

Zahara, a student of fine arts, said, she admired Abla’s use of Chinese colours and natural symbols from Chinese culture, referring to two side-by-side paintings in the gallery; one is of an abstract face of a lady with Chinese features and yellow dress and the other is of an abstract face of an Egyptian-looking man, wearing traditional Nubian Egyptian garment and holding a flower in his hand.

Among the visitors were also an old American couple, industrial psychologist, Fred Brower, and child psychologist and child book writer, Mandy Brower, who both said they loved the depths of Abla’s works so much, that they bought three of his paintings before.

The American man said, the Silk Road was made famous for the people of the West by traveller Mark O’Polo, describing the Chinese revival of the ancient routes as “a very, very interesting idea.”

“I know it’s now being revived and re-established. This connection is something I am looking at as being very interesting. It’s about connecting East and West by land, not just by flight. So, yes, we know the Silk Road and the beauty that it exchanges between the two cultures,” Brower told Xinhua at the art gallery.