AboutThis is the first of two lectures by Egyptian Artist, Nazli Madkour exploring Contemporary Egypitian Art.
The evolution of Egyptian art reaching the advent of the French Napoleonic expedition to Egypt in 1798 and the introduction of Egyptians to the European renaissance figurative art parameters. Local artists worked then in two main directions. Some, bound by the guild system produced mosque ornaments and fine utilitarian artworks. The others produced stylized figurative folk art. Of particular importance are Nubian mural art, Coptic figurative paintings and murals, Hajj paintings and paintings depicting local or religious tales. In 1908, the fine arts school was established to be run by European artists on the Renaissance precepts.
By 1920, Artists Mahmoud Moukhtar, Mohamed Nagui, Mahmoud Said and Ragueb Ayad laid down the foundation of an Egyptian modern art movement. Women artists soon followed the earliest being Marguerite Nakhla and Khadiga Riaz. Around 1938, artists Ramses Younan, Fouad Kamel and Khadiga Riaz adopted surrealism and abstraction. In 1944, a group of artists, including El- Gazzar and Nada started a new trend relying on authentic Egyptian tradition. With the advent of the 1952 Revolution, some artists worked on the prevailing socio-political subjects. After Egypt's defeat in the 1967 war with Israel, artists searched for a new aesthetic language by drawing on their Islamic traditions.
The 70's and 80's saw a rise of individual styles and assiduous modernization trends without relinquishing the quest for a national aesthetic identity. In the 90's, artists embraced post modern ways of expression such as performance, installations, art photography and video art. Today, young Egyptian artists are becoming increasingly involved with the international art network and their work is in tune with international artistic practices and discourses.
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