One of the most famous and influential contemporary Egyptian artists, Adel El Siwi has been exploring the subject of faces, which have become his trademark, since the 1990s. As a continuum of his reflection on the human body, which tends to be imperceptible in the local public conscience and discourse in Egypt, he brings back to the limelight the most expressive part of the body against the backdrop of inhibited and guilt-ridden precepts.
ُEl Siwi’s elongated faces, which seem to be growing out from the surfaces, are the amalgamation of a three-pronged influence: the Pharaonic face, the African mask, and the Fayum mummy portraits. This gives form to an array of different personalities: amongst pensive moods and suggestive looks, some faces emanate allure and charisma, others intimidate, others reveal a subtle capacity of seduction.
El Siwi’s ancient faces can be distinguished by his monochromatic expressions and the use of warm colours obtained through elegantally and gracefully wrought brushstrokes of oils and acrylics, which intensify the expression of anonymous figures without resorting to too many details. His ready-to-explode static figures are containers of memory and history, while the symbols -interspersed throughout the paintings- introduce the viewer to the non-visible dimension, yet preserving its mysterious core.
Both a fulfillment of different cultures and an icon of African-Oriental regality, Adel El Siwi’s zoomed-in totemic visages, bearing mysterious expressions, together with the abstract indirect symbols and signs make up a narrative that lies between the physical/sensual reality and abstraction, and navigates the depths of the human psyche and subconscious.
Adel El Siwi was born in 1952 in Beheira, Egypt. He studied medicine at Cairo University between 1970 and 1976 and in the same years he studied art at the Faculty of Fine Arts. In 1980 he moved to Milan, Italy, where he lived and worked for a decade before moving back to Cairo, where he currently lives and works.
The prominent artist, doctor, and translator Adel El Siwi has taken part in several solo and group exhibitions In Egypt and abroad. Starting from 2000, his work was exhibited many times in Mashrabia gallery of Contemporary art, Cairo, Egypt (2017, 2006, 95, 93, 92, 90) and at Artspace, Dubai, UAE (2015, 2012, 2009, 2007) and in several galleries in Egypt, Germany, Lebanon, Italy, France, Tunisia, Bahrain, Syria, Kuwait, UAE, USA, Algeria, China, and the UK.
He has represented Egypt at the Sharjah Biennale, UAE (1997) and the Venice Biennale, Italy (2009). Several private collections and museums hold his acquisitions, such as: British Museum, London, UK; The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, UAE; IMA, Paris, France, and Mathaf, Doha, Qatar.