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Salah Abdel Kerim (1925-1987) & KamalKhalifa (1926-1968)

A Date with the Pioneers


Safarkhan has the distinct honor to announce the rare privilege ofshowcasing internationally renowned painter, sculptor and multiplatform artistSalah Abdel Kerim (1925-1987)  in concertwith fellow pioneer, also among the seminal greats of Middle Eastern art, KamalKhalifa (1926-1968), in celebrating selected works ranging from masterfultheatre and set design to abstract and conventional drawings, paintings and sculpture.Abdel Kerim is undoubtedly one of Egypt’s most distinguished and pioneeringartists and sculptors, receiving an honorary mention for his magisterial ‘Cry of the Beast’ metallic assemblage inthe 7th Sao Paolo Biennale, and having been the only Arab artist toappear alongside Picasso and Robert Muller in famed publisher Larousse’s ‘Art and Man’ for this masterpiece. It ishis characteristically multi-category repertoire that decidedly places him in aclass of his own and amongst the most influential and remarkable talents in allof modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art. Kamal Khalifa, who also attendedthe Academy of Fine Arts, has likewise been mentioned in the same breath as oneof the preeminent figures in Egyptian modern art, whose technical obsession andmastery of depicting movement, fluidity and unconventionality in an oftentimesunsettling and tormenting manner in both his sculptures & paintings, hascemented his legacy as one of the undisputed greats of modern art.


This merged exhibition is a raretreat whereby two of the Arab world’s most celebrated artistic minds can havetheir sensational works of art across various mediums, viewed and appreciatedin collective harmony and contrast. From Abdel Kerim’s magnificently andintricately fashioned stage and theatre designs, whose method was a distinctdeparture from that of others in this category, we feast our eyes upon bold, solidcolors and astoundingly precise detail that was typically characteristic of hisstyle. This offers a fitting and provoking complement with Khalifa’s distinctivefigurative abstraction, with undefined lines, irregular and unrestrained broad brushstrokes,meshing color palettes and an artistic conception that was not governed in theslightest by laws of conformity or orthodoxy. From Abdel Kerim’s set designs thatoften came to resemble individual masterworks of painting in their own right,rather than simple preliminary renditions of stage planning, to Khalifa’s trademarkmelancholic beauty thoroughly abstract mélanges of abnormal color andstrikingly obscure human imagery and shapes, this exhibition offers a symbioticbalance across mediums, style and subject.


From Abdel Kerim’s expertly refined concordancebetween natural organisms and the sharply geometric creations to Khalifa’srebellious at times indefinable intensity, this union of art for two of thegreatest Egyptian modern artists is a truly special occasion to commemorate andone not to be missed.      

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