Hamdi Attia was born and raised in Assiut, Egypt. He currently lives and works between Cairo and Chicago. His work examines the relationship between cartography, geography, the body, and power — using video, mapping, painting, and sculpture. In his early career, he represented Egypt at the Venice Biennial, where he received the top pavilion prize with architect Akram Al-Magdoub.

His work was also exhibited in several biennials and has been featured in private and group exhibitions at Al Masar Gallery in Cairo, also in Amman, Doha, New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Paris, Rome, Oslo, Bergen, Copenhagen, Basel, Marrakesh and São Paulo. Attia has also been commissioned for a number of public works in Egypt, Italy, and the U.S. He studied at the College of Arts in Cairo and the Egyptian Academy of Arts in Rome, and received his MFA at the University of Pennsylvania.

Al Masar Gallery is the representing Gallery and Agent of the Artist.

Thus Spoke the Hoopoe

In 2014, Cyclone Hudhud devastated large areas throughout eastern India and Nepal, and tore through hoopoe nests on India’s eastern coast. Birdwatchers around the world grew anxious about the bird’s fate in a hurricane that happened to be named after its name in Arabic.

They ended up surviving these massive challenges of modern times, just like it is said that they did in the biblical time, during which they traveled on many missions without food or water, spreading the words of Solomon to the world and gathering gossip and intelligence for him. The Persian poet Attar of Nishapur named hoopoes “the wisest birds in the world” in his epic “The Conference of the Birds” – highlighting how the hoopoe is the emissary of kings and the king of wonders and expeditions. The bird also appears in the Quran, where he is depicted as a trustworthy, almost magical reporter of news, which he catches with a skilled eye.

“Thus Spoke the Hoopoe” is a body of painting that aims to explore the formula of this continuous myth of magical, insightful, and yet critical reporting by a timeless legendary bird. Drawing on but departing from the aesthetics of illustration, this body of work creates a distance between visual and textual elements to suggest that which is outside of the frame of the work

Hamdi Attia

هكذا تكلم الهدهد

في عام 2014 ضرب الإعصار “هدهد” المدمر مساحات شاسعة من الساحل الشرقي للهند امتدت شمالا إلى مرتفعات نيبال ، واكتسحت الرياح العنيفة كل شيء، فاجتثت بطبيعة الحال أعشاش فصائل طيور الهدهد التي استوطنت في هذه المناطق بكثافة عالية. ونما هاجس الخوف لدى مراكز البحث البيئي حول العالم من انقراض هذه الفصائل بسبب إعصار تصادف تسميته “هدهد” بالنطق العربي للكلمة . لكن هذه الطيور العنيدة خاضت هذا التحدى البيئي المعاصر وخرجت منه على قيد الحياة كما خاضت قديما أعباء السفر الطويل بدون طعام أو شراب ، خلال قيامها بمهام التبليغ والدعوة السليمانية في بلاد بعيدة ، ثم الرجوع اليه بأخبار وأسرار هذه البلاد. كتب الشاعر الصوفي فريد الدين العطار عن الهدهد في كتابه الأشهر “منطق الطير” ووصفه فيه بأنه مبعوث الملوك وملك التجليات والكشوف. و جاء ذكره أيضا في القرآن الكريم كمبعوث عبقري ، جدير بالثقة ، يستطلع ويلتقط الأخبار بعين مدربة.

“هكذا تكلم الهدهد” مشروع فني يطمح إلى استكشاف سحر تلك العين الاسطورية ، الثاقبة ، اللاذعة ، لطائر يبدو كمتجول استقصائي محترف . أما البناء الفني نفسه فيأخذ عن المنمنمات القديمة تزاوج النص البصري مع النص المكتوب ، وفي الوقت نفسه يخلق فجوة دلالية بين النصين تسمح بنمو التأويلات لدى المتلقي.

حمدي عطية