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Modernism on the NileArt in Egypt between the Islamic and the Contemporary$
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Alex Dika Seggerman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469653044

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653044.001.0001

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The Be auty of Uncertainty

The Be auty of Uncertainty

Abdel Hadi el-Gazzar and the “Return” of Religion in Art

(p.141) Chapter 4 The Be auty of Uncertainty
Modernism on the Nile

Alex Dika Seggerman

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter explores the postsurrealist paintings and drawings of Abdel Hadi el-Gazzar (1925–66) that “return” Islamic references to art. Gazzar’s early work indexes the Arab socialist concern for the urban poor and dispossessed, indicating Egypt’s postcolonial shift to transnational Arab alliances after the 1952 revolution. In The Green Man, Gazzar combines Islamic references of mystical talismanic imagery with European abstract oil painting. Gazzar’s later works lie between the opposing logics of social realism and abstract expressionism, and they parallel Egypt’s political status as a leading member of the Nonaligned Movement. Beyond national art and politics, this chapter connects Gazzar’s paintings with artworks from other postsurrealist turns to primitivism outside Europe in the postwar era. Seggerman argues that Gazzar heralds a new era of Egyptian modernism, which maintains its constellational nature, but with a dramatic shift in its main actors.

Keywords:   Islam, Abdel Hadi el-Gazzar, primitivism, mysticism, Surrealism, Arab socialism, Free Officer’s Revolution, Nonaligned Movement

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