Nativité by Ragheb Ayad. (Photo: courtesy of Safarkhan Gallery)
An exhibition running at Safarkhan Gallery in Zamalek from 5 to 20 June will showcase six rare artworks by one of Egypt's most prominent modern painters, Ragheb Ayad (1892-1982). The artist cultivated a uniquely Egyptian artistic identity across his oeuvre in which he constantly portrayed Egyptian daily life, local folklore and popular culture.
The paintings exhibited at Safarkhan this June come from the private collection of Sherwet Shafei, which features around 200 paintings by some of Egypt's finest modern artists such as Mahmoud Said, Hamed Nada, Yousef Sida, Effat Naghy, among many others.
As a pioneer of Egyptian modern art, Ragheb Ayad is an invaluable addition to Shafei's rich collection. The late artist was also a dear friend to Shafei.
Born in Cairo, Ayad enrolled in the school of Fine Arts as soon as it was founded in 1908 by Prince Youssef Kamel and was an influential figure in the school's first graduating class.
From 1919, after decades of foreign occupation, Egyptian modern art was driven by the struggle for a sovereign national identity. The first movement of Egyptian art, to which Ayad belonged, was therefore replete with national identity, as many painters started to chronicle everyday life and ordinary subjects on canvas.
This generation of artists also drew inspiration from their Pharaonic roots. Painters such as Ayad and Youssef Kamel were influenced by Pharaonic subject matters and set out to depict intimate images from Egyptian society.
Exhibition runs from 5 to 20 June
6 Brazil Street, Zamalek, Cairo