At the garden of his prestigious gallery in in Zamalek, Egypt’s long-time culture minister Farouk Hosni welcomes friends and artists flocking in to celebrate the launch of his newly established foundation for culture and arts.
“The Farouk Hosni Foundation for Culture and Arts is a dream to come true,” Hosny told Al-Ahram Weekly, explaining that the foundation is not a museum to exhibit his work of art or his biography but an institution to serve the community, especially the young, and promote art and culture. “I hope my newly born foundation will contribute to the development of art and culture awareness and support young art creators in all creative domains.”
The foundation’s mission is to focus on the development of artistic and cultural activities as well as the various creative disciplines and cultural components on the understanding that culture is capable of absorbing all human creative practices. It also aims to create youth-attracting activities and to support creators. The foundation holds parallel cultural activities such as artistic and cultural competitions and incubating young talents to help them develop and hone their skills.
“Cultural renaissance in Egypt began with civil work through cultural salons and literary and intellectuals groups, and others,” Hosny pointed out, “and hence the idea of the foundation arises in an attempt to make the culture one of the components of the Egyptian society, interacting with its Arab and regional environment. This foundation is an Egyptian institution for all Egyptians, young creators, and researchers who are looking for a reliable authority on art, thought and literature, as well as those who keep human values in mind.”
The foundation started its activities by the announcement of its art award to support artistic and cultural brilliance, to be presented annually by the foundation’s Board of Trustees in the presence of prominent leaders of Egypt’s cultural scene and awarded to a contemporary emerging or established Egyptian artist as voted and selected by the Judging Committee based on creative input and artistic uniqueness and excellence. The competition has already started and the foundation has been receiving applications for a whole month.
In addition to Hosny, the foundation’s Board of Trustees includes politician and Chairman of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Mustafa El-Feky, businessman Naguib Sawiris, renowned Egyptologist former minister of antiquities Zahi Hawass, physiologist Momena Kamel, renowned Egyptian writer Mohamed Salmawy, and others. A shortlist will be announced in December and a group exhibition will be organised of art by all those shortlisted. At the same time the Board of Trustees will select a winner who to be announced and awarded the prize in January. The prize consists of a medal, a cash award of LE. 50,000 and the establishment an exhibition.
The foundation’s premises also include a museum that brings together numerous pieces made and collected by Hosny including work by artists Ragheb Ayad, Adam Henein, Mahmoud Said, Hamed Nada, Mahmoud Mokhtar, Giorgio de Chirico, Antoni Tapies, Nicolas Poussin and others, as well as a books and music library.
Hosny is one of the most outstanding contemporary artists in Egypt and the Arab world. He graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Alexandria in 1964. At a young age he assumed the prestigious position of heading the Egyptian Academy of Arts in Rome, and he was later appointed as the minister of culture of Egypt until his retirement in 2011. His works have been displayed at major museums of art, including the Metropolitan in New York, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Fort Lauderdale in Miami, the National Museum of Vienna of Austria, the Tokyo Museum of Japan, the Carrousel Museum of the Louvre, Le Vittoriano Museum in Rome, as well as at Arab and Egyptian Museums.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 10 October, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.