Hamed Abdalla:

Talismanic Modernism

  • Morad Montazami Zamân Books, Paris
Keywords: Hamed Abdalla, Egyptian modernism, Hurufiyya, Letterism


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.

Author Biography

Morad Montazami, Zamân Books, Paris

Morad Montazami is an art historian, a publisher and a curator. He is editor-in-chief for the journal Zamân (Textes, images et documents) and director for the platform Zamân Books & Curating, committed to develop studies and exhibitions of Arab, Asian and African modernities. He published several essays on artists such as Jeremy Deller, Francis Alÿs, Zineb Sedira, Éric Baudelaire, Walid Raad, Latif al-Ani, Bahman Mohassess, Mohammed Melehi, Faouzi Laatiris. He was co-curator for Unedited History : Iran 1960-2014, Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris-MAXXI, Rome (2014-2015); as well as curator for Volumes Fugitifs: Faouzi Laatiris et l’institut national des beaux-arts de Tétouan, Musée Mohamed VI d’art moderne et contemporain, Rabat (2016), Bagdad Mon Amour, Institut des cultures d’Islam, Paris (2018) and NEW WAVES: Mohamed Melehi et les archives de l'École de Casablanca, MACAAL Museum, Marrakech (2019).

How to Cite
Montazami, M. (2019). Hamed Abdalla:: Talismanic Modernism. Manazir Journal, 1, 23–35. https://doi.org/10.36950/manazir.2019.1.1.3