“Let me live in the world of magic I admire. I do not want to know what things are. Knowledge renders life unbearable.”
Dubbed the spiritual godfather of the symbolic movement, Abdel Hadi El-Gazzar is one of the most important Egyptian modernist painters and perhaps the most inventive. He was born in 1925 in Alexandria, son of a scholar of Islamic law. At age eleven he moves to Cairo’s traditional Sayida Zainab neighborhood when his father is appointed professor at al-Azhar University. In 1950, he graduates from the School of Fine Arts.
Although he died young at the age of 41 in 1966, his astonishing diverse works of the 1950s and 1950s are amongst the most compelling images of twentieth century Middle Eastern art. El-Gazzar was a member of the Contemporary Art Group, founded by diplomat and mentor Hussein Youssef Amin. With his rich culture and pedagogical capacity, Amin would exercise the most decisive influence over Gazzar’s artistic work. El Gazzar exhumes the deepest the most authentic layers of Egyptian popular culture, affirms the Egyptian personality in all its authenticity and adds his own fascination with magical and the unknown, two elements which permeate his oeuvre throughout the different periods of his artistic production.
During his quarter of a century artistic journey, El Gazzar would hold four solo exhibitions and would participate twice at the Venice Biennale (1956 and 1960), at the Sao Paolo Biennale (1957 and 1961) and at the Alexandria Biennale (1955 and 1965).