The Reaya El-Nimr and Abdel-Ghani Abul-Enein Collection: Arab Folk Art
This exhibition displays the Reaya El-Nimr ethnic jewelry and costume collection alongside the folk-inspired paintings of her husband, the artist and designer Abdel-Ghani Abul-Enein.
Abul Enein and his wife spent their lives collecting folk art and trying to document the ethnic culture of Egyptian villages and oases, which was part of their work as the first costume designers for the National Group for Folk Arts.
El-Nemr traveled all across Egypt to gather this unique collection of jewelry, costumes, ornaments, wood and metal works and fabrics. Her rich and diverse collection is not confined to Egyptian culture only, but also includes items that she selected during her travels to Yemen and the Far East.
In addition, the family of the late couple has kindly donated to the BA their personal library, which comprises around four thousand books.
Arab-Muslim Medieval Instruments of Astronomy and Science (Star Riders)
One of the BA unique exhibitions, the Arab-Muslim Medieval Instruments of Astronomy and Science Exhibition highlights the priceless contributions of the Arabs to science in general, and astronomy in particular. It comprises numerous replicas of original sundials, astrolabes, compasses, sand and water clocks, in addition to globes with chiseled presentations of celestial constellations.
The Star Riders exhibition is carefully designed to present a portion of the contribution of medieval Arab scientists who were often, at the same time, skilled craftsmen.
The idea of reviving the contribution of the Arab Civilization to Science was originally initiated by professor Fuat Sezgin, Director of the Institute for the History of the Arab-Islamic Sciences, Frankfurt, who made the first attempt in researching, documenting and reproducing old Arab civilization instruments, through studying the old manuscripts and reconstructing the instruments from the information available.
The exhibition contains the old machines of the Bulaq Press, the first Egyptian press. Visitors can see, on display, a great number of the old printing presses and their accessories, such as character assembly machines, in addition to samples of printed material.
The Bulaq Press was established under the rule of Mohamed Ali in 1820, while the assembling of the machines began in 1821. The first publication by the Press was an Arabic-Italian dictionary issued in 1822. The significance of the Bulaq Press extends far beyond the mere machine: it was the beacon that guided Egypt out of the dark ages by providing a much needed source of knowledge in the form of printed books.
At the other end of the exhibition, we have the Print-on-Demand revolutionary new technology that will change the world of book publishing, the Espresso Book Machine, where the content of any book can be directly printed from any digital medium to paper without the need for conventional films or plates.
Abdel Salam Eid, is one of the innovators of the contemporary art movement. He is Professor of Painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Alexandria University. His works have represented Egypt in numerous international exhibitions and he was awarded several local and international prizes. In 2004, he received the State Award in Arts.
A collection of his works is on loan to the Library for five years, from April 2006 to April 2011. It comprises some of the creative œuvres of the artist in various forms, ranging from paintings, graphics, maquettes and composite works, to murals, collages and engravings.
Adam Henin (1929)
Since the early 1960’s, Henin has been one of the most prominent Egyptian sculptors. He spent part of a sabbatical he obtained from the Ministry of Culture close to the great Egyptian artist Hamed Saeed. The other part he spent in the Luxor Studio, where he developed extensive knowledge of the origins and philosophy of Egyptian heritage. This influenced his artistic style throughout his career. Henin draws vivid geometrical lines on papyrus , making use of its soft edges and rough surface. He uses natural Egyptian oxides such as ferric oxides, magnesia and chrome mixed with gum Arabic. Sometimes he depicts fish, birds, and animals in simple form and as if they were outlines for his sculpture. Some of these drawings look like amulets, while others have a pharaoanic flavor and bear no similarity to his sculptures . His early works consists of statues of animals from the surrounding environment, especially the donkey, in which he depicted in contemplative serenity with minimal detail, and with squared or cylindrical body. He later developed a more abstract and symbolic approach, where he returned to drawing on papyrus in slate frames. As a result, his works became two-dimensional and based on linear contours.
Henin received Egypt’s State Medal, the State Merit Award, and the Mubarak Award in art. He also established the International Granite Sculpture Symposium in Aswan.
El-Shorouk Publishing House and Skira Publishing Group, published a complete book about his life and works.
Ahmed Abdel-Wahab (1932)
Abdel-Wahab is an eminent figure among contemporary Egyptian sculptors. He devoted his art to pursuit of a contemporary model of Egyptian sculpture. His interest was drawn to the figure of Akhenaton, in whom he perceived noble and contemplative features that embodied a profound piety. Abdel-Wahab represented Akhenaton in different forms, all of which he maintained this spirit of contemplation and piety. He created large and small-scale sculptures, as well as a relief sculpture with extensive attention to ornamentation. In his creations, the artist used many different materials, such as pottery, stone, and polyester with metal.
He was awarded the State Merit Award for art in 2002.
Hamed Saeed (1908-2006)
Hamed Saeed was a vanguard artist and intellectual. Throughout his academic and creative career, he left his mark on generations of leading artists. He was a great reader and thinker. He graduated from the Higher Institute for Teachers, and went on a scholarship to England, where he rejected the Chelsea Institute academic approach, and voluntarily moved to the studio of pioneer purist artist, Amedee Ozenfant (1886-1966) who deeply influenced Saeed’s artistic taste and teachings. Upon his return to Egypt, Saeed was appointed as a teacher of painting and art history and library curator at the Higher Institute for Pedagogy. Later in the early forties, he was to supervise the Luxor Studio.
Saeed, influenced by his extensive readings and his mentor, Ozenfant, established the Art and Life Group in 1946 to contemplate and paint nature. He also established the Art and Life Center, where he became the first director of art research and sabbaticals, and was surrounded by artists, writers, playwrights, musicians, and poets.
Hassan Soliman (1928-2009)
Soliman was one of the vanguard painters in the early sixties. He became a renowned painter, writer, critic, and newspaper illustrator. His painting style depends on reducing photographs into semi-silhouettes with the minimal of the various degrees of shade, intensifying the black and white in rich mixtures, sometimes warm and sometimes cold– while using a color paste, rich in texture. Soliman fuses minute details to focus on the expressive whole. He painted the thresher dragged by two bulls in a circular movement to grind wheat. He painted formations of one or two human figures, their long shadows extend together into the shadowy areas of the composition. Soliman cherished themes of the still nature, translating the fall of light on the circular outlines of containers, and its penetration of glass containers, projecting serene colorful shades on the table surface. He also painted flocks of geese, and experimented with abstraction, graphic engraving, and drawing where he was an able master.
Mohie-Eldin Hussein: A Creative Journey
Mohie-Eldin Hussein is considered a pioneer of contemporary Egyptian art in the fields of ceramics and sculpture. He played a significant role as Founder and Director of the Cairo International Biennale for Ceramics and the National Clay Forum, and also acted as mentor to exceptional young artists. His works represented Egypt abroad in numerous bienniales and exhibitions.
Mohie-Eldin Hussein explored form and color in a highly creative fashion, and mastered the use of both old and contemporary ceramic techniques. His distinctive style brought ceramics to the forefront of the plastic arts movement.
A Creative Journey is a permanent exhibition at the BA of the works of Mohie Eldin Hussein. Inaugurated in February 2007, it displays a superb collection of 90 works of art donated by the artist to the BA.
Seif and Adham Wanli
The Wanli brothers were eminent figures in Alexandrian art in the period spanning the 1940s to the 1970s, and are widely celebrated by the intellectual and cultural circles in the city.
Renowned for their spontaneity and innovation, Seif and Adham Wanli had a distinct style in quick sketching and quick touch painting which captures the warmth of emotions. They had a special interest in painting theatrical scenes, opera, classical and folkloric dance, and the circus.
The exhibition holds a wonderful collection of huge, powerfully expressive paintings portraying athletic movements and depicting motions related to football, tennis, boxing, and cycling.
The Artist’s Book
This permanent exhibition holds deep significance as it represents an extraordinary gallery of the masterpieces of select world-renowned book artists who infuse their passions and thoughts into Man’s best companion: the book. Thought to have been in use as early as 3000 years ago, books played a unique role in history as a receptacle for human ideas and heritage. They are an art form in their own right where image and text work together in harmony to spell out the message. Different crafts were developed to serve printing, decoration, design, binding, gilding, restoration, and the creation of abstract forms.
The artist’s book exhibition presents the artists’ creative work embodied in books. The language of art has interacted with drawings, scripts and paper in order to enhance the value of the artist book and the book of artists.
It is the fruit of an enlightened idea on whose basis the Arts Center established an international biennale for the ‘artist’s book’ and another for ‘imagining the book’. The aim was to highlight the progress of this art form in the world, and to introduce our national production in this field to artists, critics, experts, and patrons of contemporary art all over the world.
The Permanent Sculpture Collection
The BA has become a hub for creative sculpture experiences using different media through its annual International Symposium for Sculpture in Natural Material. Each of the participating artists has his/her intellectual approach and special preferences as to using granite, marble, wood, mosaic, and metals. A collection of these works has been selected for display among the BA permanent exhibitions highlighting its patronage of plastic arts and promotion of dialogue between artists of different nationalities and cultural backgrounds.