Hamed Abdalla (Egypt, 1917-1985) The Workers

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Lot 60*
Hamed Abdalla
(Egypt, 1917-1985)
The Workers

Sold for £ 25,250 (US$ 30,509) inc. premium
Hamed Abdalla (Egypt, 1917-1985)
The Workers
oil on panel, framed
signed "H. Abdalla" (lower right)
45 x 55cm (17 11/16 x 21 5/8in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Property from a private collection, Cairo

    Bonhams are honoured to present these two lots by the pioneer of the Creative word and a prolific figure in Egyptian Modernism, Hamed Abdullah. Abdullah took his artistic focus one step further than the rest of his counterparts with his expansion into what he labelled the "Creative Word." The result was a series of written words expressed in paint, combining abstract concepts and human forms to bring radically different cultures, religions, and philosophies together on canvas. He was a self-taught artist from a modest peasant family of upper Egypt who gained recognition early in his life for this artist talent. At the age of 24 he had his first solo exhibition and from there showcased his works all over Egypt and was honoured a solo exhibition at the Museum of Egyptian Art in Cairo in 1949. Over the next decade he showcased his works worldwide and in 1956 he participated in a group exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He left Egypt to Denmark in 1956 and then moved to France in 1966.

    Abdullah refused to decide between figuration and abstraction, and the attraction he had for the experimentation of forms with various materials, brought Abdalla closer to the Cobra movement he was introduced to in the 1950s. This series defines one of the most original and radical moments in his diverse practice. Initially trained in calligraphy in Egypt but frustrated by the political and social situation in his home country, Abdalla settled in Copenhagen, where he experienced a period of intense experimentation and discovery. The ideas that had pervaded the work of the CoBrA artists (based in Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam) were still prominent at this time in the local and international context. Their concepts of freedom of form and colour had a significant impact on Abdalla, who shared CoBrA's fascination with scrutinising familiar methods and radically exploring new artistic forms.

    Abdalla was an autodidact who loved to experiment by himself to find his own voice and claimed his Arab and Oriental heritage: "my main rule - like the Oriental artist - is to paint nature as I see it in my mind and not as it appears to the eye. " Having migrated from his country in March 1956, fleeing the regime's slavish art-propaganda and no longer in immediate contact with the physical realities of his people, Abdalla found inspiration in the Arabic letters with which he invented new forms, unique in their kind, even suggesting "the Arab being", in line with the emancipation projects of his time.
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