When Art Becomes Liberty: The Egyptian Surrealists (1938–1965)
April 28–July 30, 2017
Opening: April 27
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea
30 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Sogyeok-dong
Hours: Monday–Sunday 10am–6pm,
Wednesday and Saturday 10am–9pm
T +82 2 3701 9500
Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Organizer: National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea
(Co-operation with Sharjah Art Foundation, Ministry of Culture in Egypt, American University in Cairo)
This exhibition documents the history and evolution of the work of the Egyptian surrealists and their remarkable legacy, both within Egypt and the international surrealist circles from the late 1930s to the early 1960s and also through the present.
It sheds light on the development of Egyptian surrealism, along with its links to international organizations through its involvement in anti-Fascist and post-colonial movements. The exhibition will be held at MMCA Deoksugung in cooperation with, Sharjah Art Foundation the Ministry of Culture in Egypt, and the American University in Cairo, providing opportunities for audiences to explore the various aspects of the modern period and the interconnectivity of international communities in the 20th century, beyond the Western-centric perspective.
It offers an approach to considering non-Western modernism and emphasizes Egyptian surrealism, which is not derivative or secondary to Western surrealism, but is a unique experiment of modernity that is worthy of study in its own right. One of the notable aspects of this project is the considerable number of artworks that is on display, including paintings, photographs and archival materials, presented for the first time outside of Egypt.
The exhibition is co-organized by the Sharjah Art Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture in Egypt, Sector of Fine Arts and the American University in Cairo. It was initially held at Cairo’s Palace of Arts in 2016, co-curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, Director, Sharjah Art Foundation; Dr Salah M. Hassan, Goldwin Smith Professor and Director, Institute for Comparative Modernities, Cornell University; Ehab Ellaban, Director, Art Centre and Dr Nagla Samir, Associate Professor of Arts, American University in Cairo.
Numerous private collectors have contributed to the success of this exhibition that displays works in the public sphere, which have not been seen for more than 50 years. The presentation at MMCA Deoksugung is organised by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, in collaboration with the Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE, and has been curated by the MMCA Curatorial team. It is the first occasion in which these treasures of Egyptian heritage travel outside of Egypt. In Seoul, the exhibition has been expanded from the Cairo presentation to include a new section on Photography and Egyptian Surrealists. Moreover, this exhibition offers a strong contextualization of Egyptian modern history, and its links to the global world by bringing together rich archival materials with the artworks on view in each section.