This publication examines the place of Egyptian Modernist painter Hamed Abdalla in transnational modern art history. Mobilizing the personal archives and library of the artist, Arabecedaire reflects on Abdalla's journeys and influences, bringing to light a vast and rich body of material which guided his painting practice.
Hamed Abdalla was a key figure in Egyptian modernism and world art. His experimental inventions reflected over thirty years of political and philosophical debate in the Arab world and also gave shape to an exiled modernism: to the cities where he lived and worked (Cairo, Copenhagen, Paris) and the art movements he came into contact with (CoBrA, lettrism, etc.). This book is mainly an investigation of the artist's personal library and archives, documenting his conceptual innovations and his philosophical explorations. It is a museum without walls of the unconscious relations between West and the East.
Published on the occasion of the eponymous exhibition at The Mosaic Rooms, London, from April 13 to June 23, 2018.
Hamed Abdalla (1917-1985) is an influential painter in Egyptian modernism. Self-taught, he had established himself as an artist by his early 20's. Frustrated by the political climate of his native country, Abdalla left Egypt to continue his career in Copenhagen during the 1960s. Here he crossed paths with artists associated with the CoBrA movement before he moved to France. Linking the origins of his abstract paintings to Islamic traditions and calligraphy, Abdalla explored the concept of the “creative word” or “talisman,” the combination of a written word, a body shape and an abstract form, upon the canvas. In his work he reflected on the political change of the time, alongside his research into the visual ideas. Curator Morad Montazami notes “Abdalla represents a prolific 'archive' for different genealogies of trans-arab and Mediterranean modernities.”