28-11-2012 11:11AM ET


Nagwa El-Ashri


Commemorating the 35th anniversary of the death of versatile legendary artist Gamal Al-Segini (1917-1977), the Zamalek Art Gallery is currently holding an exhibition of his sculptures. 

Born in Cairo in 1917, Al-Seginistudied sculpting at the Higher School of Fine Arts in Cairo and later went to Paris using his own money to pursue his higher studies. In 1947, he earned a scholarship to Rome where he received a diploma in sculpture and medal arts.

Al-Segini was a member of the third generation which rebelled against the conventional art styles of their predecessors. Indeed Al-Seginiformed the group Sawt Al-Fanan (The Artist’s Voice) where many of the young artists who believed in new artistic styles were members.

He introduced symbolism and expressionism to Egyptian sculpture. This fact coupled with a great talent paved the way into earning him several prestigious awards: the gold medal at the 1957 International Moscow Exhibition, and another gold medal at the International Brussels Exhibition. In 1958, he was awarded first prize in the High Council for the Support of Arts and Literature for the design of a sculpture of the poet Ahmed Shawki. The statue, in bronze, stands in the Borghese Gardens in Rome. Another was also erected in the Horreya Garden in Giza in Cairo.

Al-Seginireflected his thoughts of a better future for his country Egypt through his work and he summarised his reason in life through “The Will” statue (hammered copper relief-33x28cm-1954) where he pictured himself – like in the times of pharaohs – in his grave surrounded by all the things he stood for and cherished during his lifetime such as love, hope, art and music.

Constantly concerned with his home country’s issues, this infrequent sculptor featured Egypt in most of his works expressing hope, encouragement, disappointment or just pure unconditional love. Introducing symbolism in Egyptian sculpture, he used different symbols of Egypt during times of joy, despair, victory and defeat.

In 1977, Al-Segini’s comprehensive exhibition of his works was held in Spain organised by the Egyptian General Organization for Information. Al-Seginidied in Barcelona the following month.

He participatedin several international art shows including Moscow’s International Exhibition in 1957. Al-Segini’s art lovers can see part of his acquisitions on permanent show at the Oriental Art Museum and Russia Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, Beijing Museum in China, Villa Borghese Park in Rome, and the New York Public Library in the US.

The exhibition ends 31 December.