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It is with great pridethat Safarkhan brings to you the rare privilege of showcasing internationallyrenowned painter, sculptor and multiplatform artist, the great Salah AbdelKerim (1925-1988), alongside compatriot, and also highly acclaimed painterMohammed Ismail (1936-1993).  The workscurated for this special exhibition are as versatile and diverse as they arecaptivating and complementing. As one of Egypt’s most distinguished pioneers, AbdelKerim has had countless awards bestowed on him. Among them, an honorary mentionfor his magisterial ‘Cry of the Beast’ sculpture in the 1963 Sao PaoloBiennale, and being the only Arab artist to appear alongside Picasso in famedpublisher Larousse’s seminal Art and Man encyclopedia. This supreme repertoireof innovation, spanning an almost Da Vinci-like breadth of composition mediumsseldom seen, decidedly places him in a class of his own and amongst the mostinfluential and remarkable talents of his generation and thereafter. Thiscuration from his last remaining works celebrates Abdel Kerim the painter.Having produced few paintings in his diverse catalogue, he nonetheless excelledin this medium. Owing to his incomparable capacity, it was not long beforevarious governments, institutions and businesses commissioned him to conceiveand create the frescoes, murals and logos that would adorn their walls andbring their visions to life. These public works are central to his collectionin this dual-exposé, and are supplemented by examples from his enchantingtheatre set and costume design, as well as recently uncovered ink sketches anddrawings of nudes worthy of exhibition in their own right. These works are symbolizeshis adept ability to translate and convey stories into the most inventive andexpressive illustrative form. They also constitute his truly exceptional artisticmethod, predicated on a complex simplicity, originality of composition andmulti-dimensional precision. Abdel Kerim’s exquisite art marries the refinedelegance of the classical

European schools he wassteeped in, with the indelible and timeless creative stimulus emanating fromthe art of the Pharaohs through to the Egypt he knew

And loved.

Ismail received his PhDin history of fine arts in Cairo, after completing his degree in painting fromthe Faculty of Fine Arts in the capital. He took inspiration for his artthrough extensive globetrotting exploits from 1969 to 1987 during which hevisited numerous continents and countries. Ismail has been the recipient ofvarious regional and international prizes. His paintings are housed in museumsfar and wide, most significantly, the Museum of Hiroshima and Nagasaki inJapan, which he considered his other home. The paintings from Ismail selectedfor this showing are both expressionist and abstract deconstructed renditionsthat span natural, socio-political and unconventional subjects. A saturatedpalette that never strays from natural, warm and earthen tones, and a masteryof illustrative styles from potent realism to emotive expressionism toimaginative abstraction, are what defines his career’s work. This emotive powerhe establishes through an uncanny ability to utilize limited color schemes thatportray abundant detail, using fundamental color combinations such ascontrasting black and white or complementary green and brown to animateintricate and complicated shapes, forms and figures. Ismail’s own versatilityis showcased here, and its worthiness of a place alongside pioneer Abdel Kerim’sprodigious portfolio is undeniable.




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