Egyptian Artist Taha Hussein Evokes the Rich Cultural Relationship Between ‘East and West’

Taha Hussein, Renaissance – Adaptation of “The Last Supper” – Acrylic on Canvas – 85 x 140 cm – 2010. Image courtesy of Al Masar Gallery in Cairo, Egypt

Taha Hussein, Renaissance, Adaptation of  The Last Supper 2010, by outstanding Egyptian artist. Acrylic on Canvas – 85 x 140 cm – 2010. Image courtesy of Al Masar Gallery in Cairo, Egypt

ARTCENTRON CELEBRATED: Paintings by Taha Hussein, a foremost Egyptian artist, elucidate influence of Western art traditions on Modern Egyptian art

Taha Hussein, Renaissance , Adaptation of “The Last Supper” , Acrylic on Canvas – 85 x
140 cm – 2010. Image courtesy of Al Masar Gallery in Cairo, Egypt

CAIRO, EGYPY—On March 4, 2012, there was a major exhibition featuring the works of Taha Hussein, one of Egypt’s most celebrated artists, at the Al Masar Gallery in Cairo, Egypt. The exhibition titled East and West, revealed Hussein’s amazing creativity, presence and the full control he possesses over his skills as an artist. Taha Hussein’s paintings illuminate developments in modern Egyptian art. Artcentron celebrates Taha Hussein not just because of his creativity, but also because of the freshness of ideas inherent in his artworks. Hussein’s works reveal his devotion to the idea of hybridity, cross fertilization and intermingling of thoughts, ideas, civilizations and cultures. For the artist, the interactions of civilizations and cultures are integral to the development of art and other human activities. Kazad

In his Artist Statementfor the art exhibition, Taha Hussein explained the idea behind the show: “The exhibition does not relate in its content and meaning to the geographical sense of a place, but it is rather dedicated to the cultural and creative sense behind the arts, and other human creations and its various activities that of which civilizations and cultures have lived through across the ages in the “East and West.”

The artist uses the works in this exhibition to express nostalgia about the time when there was a cordial relationship between the East and West. That was before the recent conflicts and unrest. “For a long time, the relations, cultural interactions and influences between the East and West went uninterrupted which resulted in the richness, diversity and tremendous innovation of people’s thought and culture which marked the ancient, modern and contemporary times,” he notes.

Inspired by the thought and philosophy of pioneering German poet “Wolfgang Goethe” (1748 – 1832 AD), who embraced his relationship to the East which he had communicated in his book Al Divan Al Sharky lel Mo’alef El Gharby (1819 AD), the exhibition laments the demise of cultural interaction between the East and West engendered by an unfathomable desire for a binary power relationship. Al Divan Al Sharky lel Mo’alef El Gharby also known as Westöstlicher Diwan/ The West-Eastern Divan documents Wolfgang Goethe’s daily and yearly journals (1828 AD). The book is in his museum in Dusseldorf, Stuttgart in Germany.

 About Taha Hussein

Taha Hussein was born in Gamalia on 14 February, 1929. He was raised in the historical districts encompassing the environs of El Azhar and Sayedna El Hussein mosques. Both areas are rich with Islamic architecture and centers of cultural activity as places of religious and political discourse with its richness of social and political pulse, and human behavior. Living in a unique atmosphere of a special place in the Arab world inevitable contributed to the depth and religious references in his work.

Having excelled in drawing at school, earning affectionate nicknames as “the teacher of drawing”; he was trained with the finest art teachers at that time. All this led to Taha Hussein joining the Applied Arts Royal college, where he completed his studies in 1951 ranking the top of his class, gaining his path into Arts which he is still continuing until this day through lecturing at the College of Applied Arts, and painting in his country side Atelier among the greenery and enjoying the gentle breeze, an atmosphere, which he says, charges of his soul.

He left Egypt to Düsseldorf in 1957 to continue his studies in Arts, along with other colleagues such Adam Henien, architect Ahmad Abdoun, Maher Raef and others. After finishing his post graduate studies, he later obtained his PhD degree in 1963.

Taha Hussein art experience in abstraction started after his 50′s period when he could have been called the Egyptian George Roault, for using thick lines in figurative painting portraying life in the country side. He then swiftly moved to his continuous journey into calligraphy Art, which he is still practicing till this day.

Taha Hussein is a versatile artist, the witness to that is his magnificent artworks of paintings, sculptures, pottery, Hand Tuft Art Carpets, and batik. His works are characterized by Muslim calligraphy and Islamic patterns, a style that has situated him in the center of Egyptian modern art.

Hussein’s experience became more established the longer he practiced, blended with the accumulation of many years of hard work to finally achieve his varied artistic path. Hence, now the artistic experience of Hussein is about to complete six decades of art. Hussein’s world is a vacuum of an open communication space without a beginning or an end. His artwork combines an extraordinary world of signs where sometimes the brisk lines in some of his works reminds us of the effectiveness and livelihood of Arabic calligraphy. And that is why we perceive all limits between drawing and color disappearing and merging into one.

Taha Hussein, who is a celebrated artists and one those who have helped shape modern Egyptian art, was the winner of the state Merit Prize for the year 2000 (Life Achievement Award in Arts). He was the only invited Egyptian artist to the international exhibition The Art of Writing – Written pictures (The Art of Writing – Bilder werden geschrieben) that took place in 2010 in Wiesbaden, Germany. Hussein participated in Taiwan 60th anniversary exhibition Mirrors of Continuous Change. Taha Hussein has received many honorable awards for his life achievements in art.

ARTCENTRON CELEBRATED | READ ALSO: Abstract Figures Behind Islamic Patterns Engage Spectators in a Dialogue

Taha Hussein, Dilemma II, Acrylic on Canvas 120 x 140 cm, 2011. Image courtesy of Al Masar Gallery

Taha Hussein, Heaven & Earth: Adaptation of ‘The Creation of Adam’, Acrylic on Canvas – 150 x 190 cm – 2010. Image courtesy of Al Masar Gallery

Taha Hussein, Shahnamah, Acrylic on Canvas, 140 x 140 cm 2010. Image courtesy of Al Masar Gallery

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