Hamed Nada Egyptian, 1924-1990

Upon his death, Le Monde eulogized that "Egypt went into darkness and lost one of her brightest and most powerful artists, Hamed Nada."

Nada was born in the district of the Citadel, one of Cairo’s oldest sha’abi (popular) districts. As a boy Nada was confronted by the local people whose lives were dominated by the power of folk magic and the supernatural. His paintings are in a sense autobiographical. The images Nada depicts in his paintings originate in the atmosphere of the communal home where he was born. They evoke his neighborhood and its traditions, with folkloric details such as the water pipe or the mischievous jinn. At the same time his paintings are allegorical, they tell stories inspired by the storyteller.


During his first period Nada’s approach to art was marked by his association with the Egyptian literary society and their journal El Thakafa (The Culture). He also was influenced by his introduction in this period to Hussein Youssef Amin’s (1904-1984) group of Contemporary Art and by his school friend and fellow pioneer Abdel Hadi El Gazzar (1925-1965). In his early drawings Nada’s social realist themes are conveyed with a sensitive metaphorical use of space. His work was shown among other Egyptian artists in Paris in 1954.


In reviewing his work, Jean La Couture stated "his figures are encircled in a closed heavy universe symbolised by a concentric design." From daily life he extracted symbols like chairs, lamps, cats and the rooster which are destined to make palpable 'that other thing' not experienced by the character but apprehended by the painter. A frequent characteristic motif across Nada's ouevre is the imagery of the bird in its many mythical forms, which he often depicted in contravention of norms as a nefarious and wicked creature that preyed on innocent women. The extraordinary quality of Nada’s paintings allied with the research in his composition give his work a weight and an assurance which surprisingly came from an artist who was only 28 years old. In his later period, Nada systematically abolished the third dimension, distorting his figures according to the expressive needs of each element as they contrast on the flat surface of his canvas.


In 1960 he left for Spain to complete a diploma in mural painting at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Art in Madrid. Upon his return to Cairo in 1962 he was appointed professor in the painting department at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo. He became the head of the department in 1977. At retirement in 1984 he worked part-time as professor of mural painting. Nada regularly contributed to group exhibitions, winning the grand prix at the Alexandria Biennale in 1956 and 1962. Nada had his first studio at the Massaferkhana in Gamalia. After the tragic and accidental burning of this old palace, Nada moved to Wekalat El Ghoury. In the beginning of May 1990, all of Egypt was plunged into darkness due to a power shortage caused by the Aswan High Dam. Nada happened to be descending a staircase at Wekalat El Ghoury when he fell down and hit his head, he was immediately hospitalised. Upon his death, Le Monde eulogized that "Egypt went into darkness and lost one of her brightest and most powerful artists, Hamed Nada."