Hamed Nada (1924-1990), one of the most prominent members of the Group of Contemporary Art, was one of the first modern Egyptian artists to introduce occult symbols and feature the unconscious in his paintings.
Nada was influenced by his religious upbringing and experience of living in the Sayyeda Zeinab district of Cairo. His paintings are essentially autobiographical. While working for the seminal Egyptian writer Taha Hussein, Nada attended Cairo’s School of Fine Arts. A student of the renowned painter and teacher Hussein Youssef Amin, who rejected the school’s traditional curriculum, Nada joined other Egyptian artists including Abdel-Hady Al-Gazzar, Samir Rafie and Kamal Youssef to form the Group of Contemporary Art. In the 1950s, he began to focus on the daily plight of the Egyptian working class, later moving towards more political subjects.
In 1960, Nada left for Spain to study mural painting at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. On his return to Cairo in 1962 he was appointed professor in the painting department at the Faculty of Fine Arts. He became the head of the department in 1977. At retirement age in 1984 he worked part-time as a professor of mural painting. Hamed Nada regularly contributed to group exhibitions, winning the Grand Prize at the Alexandria Biennale in 1956 and 1962.
His paintings are on permanent display at the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art in Cairo.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 6 February, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.