Mamdouh Ammar (1928-2012)
Mamdouh Ammar is a third generation Egyptian artist whose career spans over a period of six decades and during which expressionism, symbolism and surrealism blend. A multi-faceted artist, Ammar spent the first half of his journey close to the people and at the heart of the streets of Egypt and the second half secluded, if not exiled, as a refugee in his own homeland.
Born in 1928, Mamdouh Ammar graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo in 1952 – the year of the 23 July Revolution. He soon joined the Contemporary Art Group as they were in the midst of creating a spectacular Egyptian Folk Realism movement in which art and politics blurred.
A two-year apprenticeship in the studio of Turkish watercolor master Hedayet and a close student-teacher relationship with French Orientalist Beppi-Martin and Hussein Bicar enabled Ammar to build a multi-faceted narrative in which spirituality and humanity are the central themes. During his first phase, Ammar narrated the story of a society immersed in magic and deeply-rooted popular rituals and folklore in search for alternative answers.
His second phase – impacted by the different wars his nation and the region engaged in – reflected on the agony of conflict in the broadest sense. His third and final stage shows a deeply human artist who found freedom in the generative power that emerges out of solitude and exile.
A testimony to our history (and failure to learn from it), Ammar is a socially minded and prolific artist whose rediscovery may well be a silent nod to an extraordinary and overdue legacy as he foresaw the urgency to convey the importance of a collective sense of a shared fate.
His work is in the collection of the Egyptian Museum of Modern Art (Cairo), Port Said Museum, the Denshawai Museum (Menoufia), Al Ahram Collection and several gigantic murals across Egypt.