Offering 21st-Century Egyptian Art: A Journey Into The Museum Of Modern Egyptian Art

Since Cairo boasts a number of historical and artistic museums like the Museum of Islamic Art and the Mahmoud Khalil Museum; the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art was the next one on my list. Hosting a fascinating collection of modern Egyptian Artists’ paintings & sculptures in the heart of Cairo’s Opera House.

As I walked into the Opera House, I noticed that there were a number of statues, and one, in particular, caught my attention. It was that of the famous Egyptian singer and composer Mohammed Abdel Wahab, one of the most renowned Egyptian musicians cherished across the Arab world. He also was the first Egyptian composer to have written a composition with a specific musical notation for the deaf.

First I paid a ticket fee of 10EGP and then start roaming inside the museum. The museum offered a vast collection of 21st-century Egyptian art and had three levels all of which showcased distinct artists’ works from paintings to sculptures.

Upon entering, I had the chance to speak with Islam who had worked in the museum for 3 years and told me all the bits & pieces about this art hub. He asserted that a lot of fine arts students come to the museum looking for inspiration. But they are not the only ones as a lot of school trips come to allow high school students to engage and become more familiar with this type of art.

Oil paintings are on the first floor and I came across an artist by the name of Rateb Sadik who was based in London and Paris. He participated in a number of exhibits and studied at the Chelsea Polytechnic institute of arts. He also authored a book called “My Experience in Art and Life,” which was published by the Egyptian General Book Organization in 1989.

Islam also expressed how this museum endured years of closure, but finally opened its doors to the public in Dec. 2020. He expressed that initially there were 13,000 pieces of art and the new director had to choose just 890 works. While this decision was definitely not an easy one, Islam expressed that the museum is supposed to give clear answers regarding the history of art in Egypt.

“The World Is A Small Village” by artist Mohamed Abdel Moniem Ibrahim, 1997

On the second floor, I came across Taha Hussein‘s portrait by the talented artist George Bahgoury. Bahgoury was an Egyptian-French artist a most renowned contemporary Egyptian artists of our time. He began his career as a political cartoonist featuring in Rosel Youssef magazine and he later studied painting. His background as a political cartoonist is how he achieved his trademark as the “Grandfather of Caricatures” besides being a superb painter and sculptor.

I took the stairs to the second floor and ran into the “Engy Aflaton Museum.” Aflaton was an Egyptian artist who left the life of the aristocracy to join the every day struggle, she embodied the social injustice of the poor and rural life in more than a thousand paintings.

“The Local Girls” by Engy Aflaton

Titled “From The Egyptian Environment,” artist Omar El Nagdi is renowned for his series of works based on singular forms of calligraphy. Over the course of his career, El Nagdi experimented with more than just one particular artistic style. El-Nagdi draws his inspiration from the diverse cultures of rural Egypt and Cairo’s popular urban district in particular “Bab Al She’reya.” Before achieving success, El Nagdi received training in Russia and Italy to graduate from the Academy of Venice in 1965. He also formed the Egyptian Mosaics Group in 1964 and was a member of the Liberal Artist’s group headed by Taha Hussein.

As I was on my way outof the museum I noticed an extraordinary sculpture on the first floor (next to the back door.) It turned out that it belonged to the “Messiah” by renowned Egyptian artist Salah Abdel-Karim. Abdel-Karim won a number of awards and one of them being the International Prize for Painting from San Vito Romano, Italy. His artistic work on surrealism allowed him to roam the world to develop his artistic skills. Fun fact, Rene Huyghe, the famous French writer, included Abdel-Karim’s sculpture “Cry of the Beast” in his book “Art and Man” together with the work of the great artist Picasso.

“The Messiah” by Salah Abdel Karim

Overall, visiting this museum was a great experience, and the art there was priceless and satisfying. As we are approaching the winter season, where the weather will be getting more chilly, it’s museums like this that offer the perfect activity. The museum is open from 10 am-2 pm & 5-8 pm from Saturday through Thursday.

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