Sunday,23 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1135, 14 - 20 February
Sunday,23 September, 2018
Issue 1135, 14 - 20 February

Ahram Weekly


The Museum of Egyptian Modern Art Abaad Gallerylocated in the Cairo Opera House grounds presents a much-awaited unique exhibition by the late star of the 20th century Egyptian art, Mounir Canaan or Michael Dawoud Canaan (1919 – 1999).

It is a retrospective exhibition and it showcases interesting groundbreaking works for the first time. As a revolutionary artist, Canaan was a pioneer of Modernism and abstract art in Egypt and the Arab World whose body of work and style was always ahead of its time and he later appeared in the international art scene.

“X Condition”collection (1967–1969) is where the sign of rejection started appearing in his works post 1967 war. The artist said: “After failing to paint, I would wipe out many paintings, or try to erase or assault them, but on looking at them once more, I discovered that these assaults were what I had been looking for. I gave an exhibition on rejection where paintings were displayed on the letter “X”. My paintings came out powerful and expressive”. Such geometric design prevailed as a theme in his works for many years until he passed away. Canaan’s body of work included the “Nature”collection (1942 – 1956) that included realism paintings. Canaan registered the “Nubia” collection (1956 – 1959) consisting of Nubian sketches leading him quickly into abstraction, which happened abruptly in 1945. In 1945, he produced his first abstract painting, which he showed at the Sao Paulo Biennial in Brazil.

In 1959, the subject disappeared altogether and the material prevailed reaching a technique of partially erasing the original painting or writing and re-painting over it adding new touches that hardly shows what lies beneath.

Canaan managed to cut down elements by mixing between areas covered by wooden pieces and empty spaces. One of his wood works was exhibited in the Museum of Modern Arts in Paris, its photo was published in “Le Monde”. Commentary ran that this was an artist who had genuinely managed to achieve equilibrium and harmony, amidst a popular Egyptian ambiance, captured in a painting that is considered an avant-garde in modern art.

The period of abstraction (1959 – 1969) was a new stage on Canaan’s life that involved raging colors, moaning blots and sighing spontaneous touches, ranging between violence and softness and hardness and smoothness.

His first experience with collage painting was in 1953 running through 1970. It was the start of a process that announced the birth of a new trend in Canaan’s artistic career, namely the art Collage making it as effective and impressive as those made out of other conventional materials. Geometric abstraction was the natural framework within which the clippings moved with exceptional freedom. He continued his collage collection shifting to “Rhythmic Collage” (1970 – 1979), which was more characterized with complicated geometric forms and a thorough understanding of harmonious compositions.

The exhibition is on until 22 February.  



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