Members and supporters of Art et Liberté, ca. 1945, in la Maison des Artistes, Darb el-Labbana, Citadel, unknown photographer, vintage silver gelatin print.
COLLECTION OF CHRISTOPHE BOULEAU, GENEVA
This intriguing presentation, curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath in participation with Bernard Blistene and Catherine David of the Center Pompidou, is committed to the Surrealist artist and essayists assemble Art et Liberté. It introduces somewhat known part in the tasteful battles and the political activism in Egypt in the vicinity of 1938 and 1948. Energizing behind the Egyptian Surrealist writers Georges Henin and Albert Cossery's 1937 declaration "Long Live Degenerate Art," which remained contrary to Hitler's assault on modern art in Munich, the group thought about Surrealism as a characteristic masterful articulation of contemporary issues outside of Fascism, Communism, and Capitalist belief system.
Art et Liberté was founded in Cairo at first to challenge the profoundly enthusiastic yearly Salon du Caire, which organized artists by nationality. The group countered with Surrealist presentations and works that rejected the relationship of art and nationalism; they expelled the famous stylish streams, running from Symbolism to Naturalism. The Art et Liberté artists, writers, photographers, and filmmakers joined with dislodged artists who had international affiliations, in this manner permitting Art et Liberté to extend its compass to Paris, London, Athens, and San Francisco.
It characterized its central goal as making art that would be a vehicle for social change. In that way, they adjusted themselves to André Breton and Leon Trotsky's 1938 pronouncement "For an Independent Revolutionary Art." In the meantime—like their partners in Eastern Europe and Latin America—they demanded that Egyptian Surrealism had local roots in people stories and specialties and in addition in Coptic religious art. Out of this, Art et Liberté advanced its own meaning of Surrealism, trusting that, notwithstanding being a art movement, its fundamental mission was “social and moral revolution.”
The painter Ramses Younane, for instance, needed to take Surrealism beyond Dalí and Magritte, whose work he considered excessively unsure, excessively figured, and excessively restricted in extension, making it impossible to take into consideration unconstrained creative ability. He additionally thought to be programmed composing and drawing excessively self-included and ailing in social mindfulness. Rather, Art et Liberté detailed a style called Subjective Realism, whereby artists consolidated recognizable symbols in works inspired by imagination.
In this specific circumstance, that standard subject of naturalist writing and social-realist art, the whore in the city, turned into a noteworthy concentration for issues of social disparity and financial misuse.
Pioneering women in the group—Amy Nimr, Nata Lovett-Turner, and Natalija Tile—made feminism a central concern in their own publications, such as the Arabic language al-Tatawwur and the French Don Quichotte. In paintings depicting fragmented bodies, emaciated, distorted, or dismembered figures the female body expressed the society’s harrowing injustice. Photographers, like Lee Miller, Ida Kar, Hassia, Rami Zolgomah, Khorshid, and Van Leo, used solarization and photomontage to deconstruct the human form and created surrealist juxtapositions that were commentaries on colonialism and the Fascist exploitation of Pharaonic Egypt.
In a Cairo within the orbit of war, under British colonial occupation by 140,000 troops, a rising Fascist ideology debated the values of democracy, which became a major preoccupation of artists and writers. Art et Liberté gave Egypt a major intellectual and artistic legacy that is illuminatingly presented in this exhibition with its comprehensive catalogue.
Before the finish of World War II, in 1946, Art et Liberté was separated by a disagreeing association, the Contemporary Art Group, which no longer related to Surrealism and needed to build up a genuine Egyptian Art. Out of this gathering rose some of Egypt's driving present day artist, including, Abdel Hadi el-Gazzar, Hamed Nada, and Samir Rafi. This show gives a novel point of view on the chronicled and social many-sided quality—the artistic, intellectual, and political life of a culture we now see as diminished to religious and political philosophy. It additionally clarifies the sudden appearance on the international art scene of the sculptures and paintings of Saloua Raouda Choucair, who was Lebanese and of the Druze Religion. Her work evolved amid the turmoil in Beirut, Lebanon—once considered the Switzerland of the Middle East.