AL MASAR GALLERY │Contemporary Art
Premiere Exhibition | 4 May 2008

THE CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVE

Ancient Egypt has long been a fantastical, mythical epoch, immortalised by its ruling pharaohs, phenomenal architecture, medicinal advancements, astrological inputs and so much more. Needless to say, the profound legacy of this great era has left an enduring impact on the Egyptian art scene. Ancient Egypt was the only Egypt I knew; its hieroglyphics in particular, were a personal fixation. But during a visit to Cairo in 2005, a whole new world was unveiled to me. On private guided tours of some of Cairo’s most prominent galleries, I was struck by the superb quality of Contemporary Egyptian art. Not only was the art I witnessed on par with worldwide Contemporary art standards, but it was also fascinating to view the incorporation of Ancient Egypt into Contemporary artworks. In an indirect sense, the pharaohs were back, thereby confirming their immortality and impact on the Egyptian Contemporary art scene 5000 years later.

The exceptional aspect concerning Contemporary Egyptian art is that it crossed borders and transcended cultural barriers. It found homes in some of the world’s renowned museums and made its way into global notable auctions. I am proud to have acquired a number of Contemporary Egyptian artworks for my private collection. Across all artistic disciplines, from photography and film to painting and sculpture, the success of Contemporary Egyptian art was amplified through the artists-in-residence in some of the world’s culture capitals; an effect which continues today. These ‘arts pioneers’ broke new ground and now serve as role models in the cultural understanding of the Middle East.

As a publisher with great passion for Middle Eastern art and culture, I know that we have only hit the tip of the Contemporary Egyptian art iceberg. There is a plethora, a wealth of artistic treasures that remains undiscovered and I am honoured to be one of many to carry out the task of bringing it to light. Canvas is yet to announce a number of projects regarding Contemporary Egyptian art. It is a minute contribution to a culture so great. The pharaohs would have been proud.

Ali Yussef Khadra
Founder and CEO
Mixed Media Publishing – Canvas Magazine – the premier magazine for art and culture from the Middle East and Arab world

A COLLECTOR’S VIEW

Egyptian Art has always offered me an unparalleled opportunity to acquire works of Art. In this vibrant collecting scene, ever propelled by its established Artists of renown, with works that have a cross over appeal, Art is built on an exceptional heritage.  This translates into a uniquely deep and self sufficient market. The well deserved international attention that this market has recently received can only firm up its regional dominance and boost its international quest for a world Art center status.  By the same, it should reinforce our confidence in collecting Egyptian Art going forward.  The role which Almasar Gallery would be called in to play into all this is not only timely, but truly historic.

In a nutshell, I am convinced that with the right introduction such as Almasar Gallery, to give you access to such a fantastic market, investing in Egyptian Art today might be a wise decision medium to long term, on top of the emotional dividend, which is great.

Khaled Kawan
A Modern & Contemporary Arab Art Collector

FAROUK HOSNY

For all its lack of identifiable subject matter, Farouk Hosny’s paintings are open to being understood by the viewer as an ongoing abstract “interpretation” of visual phenomena in the real world: buildings, landscapes, objects, and even outer space. Suggestions of forms are rendered with just enough detail for them to hold the visual space around them, but not so far as to push the resemblance too close to the literal. Even the presence of a pyramid in one of his canvases remains ambiguous enough for us to wonder if indeed it isn’t simply an inverted triangle in space . In Hosny’s rendition, it is a sign for “Pyramid”, in much the way that the pyramid itself functions as a symbol of worldly forces working in concert with the divine.

Hosny manifests a justifiable restlessness about categories “abstract” and “representational”, because an abstract painting is not conjured up from a mere arrangement of color, shape, and line, even if these form its essential parts. On the contrary, an abstract painting proposes new variations on such fundamental relationships as the internal proportions of a rectangle, or the dialogue between the picture’s interior and its edge. It even suggests that the world outside the painting is considerably more abstract than is usually thought to be the case, which introduces a nearly metaphysical layer of visual interpretation. For these reasons, an abstract painting can be as real as the environment in which it is placed, and Hosny’s art has the capacity to fully engage almost any kind of visual surroundings.

Part of the immediate appeal of Hosny’s paintings is their seeming casualness. A single bold brushstroke might be reinforced by a barrage of related gestures, or it might simply lay raggedly across the painting’s surface like the trace of a spontaneous incident. Once the constituent areas of the painting have been articulated and an internal balance has been struck, the artist rarely sees the need to continue to add further, unnecessary visual cues. If the suggestiveness were to be replaced by too much clarity, then the painting’s capacity to evoke multiple realities would be diminished.

This casualness may seem to be the result of a less than disciplined attitude toward the act of painting but nothing could be further from the truth. In the genre of abstract painting that Hosny has embraced, everything must happen in preparation for the brushstroke touching the canvas. There are few second chances, not much margin for correcting errors, and no room for erasure at all. We see both the process and the image simultaneously, and it is the fusion of the two that enables the painting to hold onto our attention, even after we have noticed that it isn’t a painting of anything. In a sense, it is a painting unto itself, and Hosny’s skill at enabling his art to pursue its own point of reference also makes it a symbol of the unfettered imagination, perpetually making new links between the world of tangible phenomena and the world inside our thoughts.

Dan Cameron
Director / Curator, Prospect. 1 New Orleans
Director of Visual Arts, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans

ADAM HENEIN

The Sculptor of Solid Parity

When a child of two years old finds itself in the Egyptian museum for the first time, it is as if he finds himself for the first time.

When I saw Sheik El-Balad statue, I felt as if he were my grandfather himself. I do not know what happened, but something changed inside me.

Strange world, whose strangeness is that it exists before your eyes, yet untouchable,. Its profound impact is crystallized in this exact “moment”. This is the experience I constantly seek till today, an insisting need to find this a moment. Every day I rum to my atelier to grasp this “moment”. I do comprehend it well, yet I can not define it in exact words, it appears in my works.

May be Adam Hunnain is still seeking this magical moment. This pursue does not end by its nature. Is this the secret of pure clarity.

This reminds me of what Adam said; “ I absorbed the Egyptian art since childhood, I lived in it and it lived in me”.

There is no need to count the numerous galleries, in which Adam Hunnain participated or the awards he won.

The Western world has known Adam Hunnein for more than two decades as both sculpture and photographer. His work of art is characterized by intimacy, warmth and smoothness. This is may be due to his use of natural pigments after mixing them with Arabic glue, which is a technique, which he learnt from his Pharonic ancestors during his residence in Luxor.

Adam has many paintings in Chinese black ink, in which the concept of circle with its flowing and crossing lines, as if it were the center of his artistic world or rather an endless beam exploding from its core. This concept is closely related to the concept of the ancient Egyptian artist “motion in the heart of stillness”.

His papyrus paintings were either a mere coincidence or calculated selection. The texture of the papyrus integrates with the authentic formation of the artist, creating a harmony and unity, that appeal to the viewer.

Edward Kharat

TAHA HUSSEIN

The critic and director of the National Hall of Berlin, Taha Hussain, whose silver anniversary is being celebrated today for the passage of 25 years on his art practice. He studied in Western Germany, yet he retains his un-wavered loyalty to traditions. During his stay in the Art Academy of Düsseldorf, 1958 – 1961, all his artistic constituents united, developed and strongly launched to form his artistic personality, identity and independence. Yet, his artistic work could be undoubtedly named “metaphorical or “codified touch” for what it contains of spontaneity, constructional and great unity in its elements ………. where there is a new sensitivity to a painting surface.

This artistic metaphors are manifested in the Islamic arts, that confined the use of personification and helped in developing arts in Europe on new concepts ground.

The Zero movement, New Conceptual Art, OP art as well as the principles of comprehensive spreading and random photography of Polock  and Stella can not be subject of assessment or criticism in the modern age without knowledge of the Islamic arts, to which a credit is due for recognizing and  acknowledging these artistic movements.

It is true that these movements have its artistic traditions in the Western arts of Europe and its roots are manifested in its artistic traditions, where in Cézanne it sprouts into Cubistic and then what is called democratic distribution and spread, manifested in the constructional building.

Taha Hussain, in his stage as such,  when he reduces his personal usage he inclines towards Object Art in his artistic production, which he easily and smoothly creates.

In this we do not just feel Taha Hussain emerging from his Islamic tradition in art but also from European tradition as well. However, either here or there he is subject of respect and esteem of all friends.

Professor Dieter Honisch
Director of the National Berlin Museum, 1975

MOUNIR CANAAN

“Who says that the real experiments in life, in general, and the Art in particular, could be the product of heart or mind alone? So is my new painting, which is the product of both heart and mind together. The unconscious plays an important role in formulating it as well. If the painting does not call out the viewer, then there is something incomplete. The golden rule is that what comes out of the heart goes directly to the heart. Also the highly mechanical skill could be at the account of truth or free beauty. When the artist is unable to pour the warmth of his heart into his painting, this painting is doomed. When I finish a painting and the inside machine is cool and every thing is calm I go to see the painting with the toughness of a critic eye. When I introduce new works, that are exceptional or unorthodox, I do humble myself to the same level of harsh criticism. Therefore, no painting of mine is like another, there is a bond, but no repetition, never, such is rather exhausting to my soul.

Abstraction does not mean deprivation; it is rather disposing of the blabber around an idea. It means photographing the core of truth along with eliminating the deceptively materialistic appearance, which hinders conception of the truth.”

Mounir Canaan

Adam Henein

Farouk Hosny

Mounir Canaan

Taha Hussein