Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art including On The Banks of the Nile / Hamed Abdalla (Egypt, 1917-1985) The Family (A'elah)
Property from a private collection, Paris
Paris, Galerie Marcel Bernheim, March 1956
"I aim at painting people for the people". -Hamed Abdalla, quoted in Wall Street International, 2018
Bonhams is honoured to present this lot by a prolific figure in Egyptian Modernism and the pioneer of the creative word, Hamed Abdullah. This painting Family was executed in the early 1950s, during the establishment of Nasser's government, where the working-class conditions were a key subject of concern in both cultural and political fields. Following the demand for a land reform, many farmers moved to the city to benefit from the economic boom. However, the development of urbanisation often obstructed agriculture, thus limiting their sources of income. The Egyptian Revolution of 1952 was a period of profound political, economic and societal change in Egypt that began on 23 July 1952 with the toppling of King Farouk in a coup d'etat.
This empathetic and stylized representations of Egyptian daily life is pronounced so touchingly in the present work. Tender and ennobling in its portrayal of the dignified Egyptian working class family, the present work is evidence of an artist who captures the true spirit of the age in his penetrative renderings of the Egyptians and their everyday plight in the twentieth century. In Abdalla's work, the farmer and his family's freedom depend on their land, yet constantly threatened to see his land seized.
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.