Hamed Abdalla: Talismanic Modernism
Hamed Abdalla (1917–85) is a key figure in Egyptian modernism and postcolonial art history. His experimental inventions around the Arabic Letter reflected over thirty years of aesthetic debate in the region – often identified as related to the concept of Hurufiyya and its artistic network. Abdalla’s much more political and militant use of the Arabic Letter places him as almost as a unique case. By giving shape to an exiled modernism (Cairo, Copenhagen, Paris, Beirut…) his practice is paradoxically affected by his complex exchange with the West. For instance, with Paul Klee, whom he sees with distance and a critical look but still studies him as a “visual translator” of Oriental(ist) and Egyptian sources.
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