Art et liberté. Rupture, War and Surrealism in Egypt 1938-1948
Directed by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath
We all know that Surrealism flourished in France, Belgium and Hungary. But who would have thought of Egypt? On the eve of WW II Cairo bristled with surprising audacity. “Degenerative art” was promoted, belly dancers performed wearing gas masks, a type of painting similar to those of Dalí or Ernst were popular and Man Ray would have liked to carry out the experiments with photographic overprints that took place. The catalogue reviews this diversity (presented at the Centre Pompidou until 16 January, before immigrating to the Tate Liverpool). It is carried out by a Art et Liberté group of first rate writers such as Georges Henein, Edmond Jabès or Albert Cossery. One has the impression of discovering a wrecked continent: not only because nude and sacrilegious representations were allowed, but because the cosmopolitan society had something that did not make sense. Among the participants to this creative excitement one could see beautiful Lee Miller, married to a wealthy businessman from Cairo; Armenian Ida Kar, brought up between Russia, Iran and France before becoming the wife of the English poet Victor Musgrave; Eric de Némès, a Hungarian illustrator who had spent some time in Beirut; and even Angelo de Riz, the Italian anarchist who left his country and ended up as a decorator for ballrooms and movie houses, such as the Rivoli. We know very little of these last two persons, not even their dates of birth nor the circumstances under which they died. This only makes them the more worthy of a fable. Oh, but how beautiful the Egyptian atmosphere of Surrealism was, far from the Seine!
Review published in the newsletter #454 - from 22 December 2016 to 11 January 2017