Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1231, (29 January - 4 February 2015)
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1231, (29 January - 4 February 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Forest of granite and light

The Aswan International Sculpture Symposium is honouring sculptor Adam Henein as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations, writes Nevine El-Aref

adam
adam
Al-Ahram Weekly

The Forest of Granite is the only piece of art that will be produced at the Aswan International Sculpture Symposium this year, marking a special round when the foreign sculptors participating, rather than making a contribution, will simply be guests of the event.

Only young Egyptian artists taking part in the workshop will be making sculptures — 16 were chosen out of 40 applications, according to the Head of the Culture Development Fund Mohamed Abuseada, a very large number compared to last year — together with the founder and commissar of the symposium Adam Henein and the three celebrated sculptors assisting him: Essam Darwish, Sherif Abdel Badie and Hani Faisal.

Abuseada explained that the symposium committee insisted that Henein’s piece, made up of seven squared pillars of red granite, each four metres tall, should be placed at the entrance to the Open-air Museum, which includes another 147 sculptures produced in the course of the event by artists from all over the world.

“The number of applicants proves the symposium has achieved its goal of nurturing a new generation of rock sculptors, an art that had all but disappeared following the death of the renowned master Mahmoud Mokhtar,” Abusaeda said.

Henein said he is very excited about contributing a piece to the symposium, especially one that reflects the souls of three of his talented students. Supporting himself as a professional photographer in Paris in the 1970s, Henein still made small sculptures, which he kept in a safe.

On returning to Egypt in the late 1990s he started a piece in the garden of his house (now the Adam Henein Museum) in Haraneya, but it was never completed. The present opportunity is therefore a dream come true.

“I chose the three sculptors who will be working with me because they are skillful and talented artists with a lot of experience in taming granite,” he said. “They are teachers at the Faculty of Fine Arts who will know how to connect with the young artists in the workshop.”

Henein expressed his happiness that Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb will attend the closing ceremony and officially inaugurate the Open-air Museum. “The symposium improves the image of Islam worldwide, especially after people went on television calling for destroying not only contemporary but ancient Egyptian sculptures.”

The closing ceremony will be directed by the Lebanese choreographer Walid Aouni. After scouting a range of scenic locations, Aouni chose the Open-air Museum because of its high location and the breathtaking surrounding scenery. He described it as “the marriage of the desert and the Nile, with the green of the valley like a string of emeralds alongside the dusty plains.”

The museum, Aouni says, is a space for meditation as well as art: “It is a primitive site, where you can feel the power of the universe.” It inspired him to produce not simply a dance tableau but a kind of sound and light show in which the granite pieces star alongside percussion-only music and people.

Attendees will tread a path in front of the sculptures, while musicians perform selections from Shady Abdel-Salam’s The Night of Counting the Years and classic plays like Hamlet, Macbeth and Medea. The last stop will be at The Forest of Granite.

“This is not the first time I’ve worked in an open-air area,” Aouni said, citing his experience with the French composer and music producer Jean-Michel Jarre for the Millennium Ceremony at Giza plateau. Still, “every performance has its own taste and presents its own challenge,” Aouni said.

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