The 15th Luxor International Painting Symposium (LIPS), called Luxor by Art’s Eyes, was recently held in the main exhibition hall of a five-star hotel overlooking the Nile. The venue was transformed into a small arts gallery displaying the works of 54 painters. Eighteen artists from six Arab and foreign countries participated in this round in which Egyptian artist and professor of fine arts Mustafa Al-Fiqi was the guest of honour.
Minister of Culture Nevine Al-Kilani said the idea of Luxor Art Ateliers goes back to 1941 when artist Mohamed Nagi suggested its construction in the home of Sheikh Abdel-Rassoul, the discoverer of Luxor’s mummies cachette, on Luxor’s west bank in an attempt to develop the skills of fresh graduates of the fine art school at that time. World War II had halted all international missions abroad for students.
Renowned novelist and author Taha Hussein who was the minister of culture at the time, constructed the atelier, which during 25 years continued to spread its message of art not only to Egyptian artists but foreigners as well. Luxor was then transformed into an art academy, generating major Egyptian fine artists, headed by Hamed Said, Abdel-Qader Rizk, Salah Taher and Hassan Fathi, among many others.
In 1964, the Luxor atelier shut its doors. Several attempts were made to reopen it but failed, until 2008 when the Cultural Development Fund (CDF) started the LIPS and adopted the idea of resurrecting Luxor’s atelier. “We are celebrating its 15th round this year, after a long history and an honourable path,” asserted Al-Kilani.
Work is now in progress on the khan’s atelier in Old Gourna, Al-Kilani said. This involves improving the infrastructure and lowering the groundwater level. In addition, the land facing the atelier allocated to the Cultural Development Fund will be used to establish a permanent cultural and artistic centre where a number of events and activities will be held,” CDF head Hani Abul-Hassan said.
The atelier aims at providing an opportunity for creative artists from around the world to produce art in the historical atmosphere of Luxor, surrounded by ancient Egyptian monuments and magnificent landscape. “This will encourage new artistic visions that would enrich art movements in Egypt and beyond,” Abul-Hassan pointed out.
He described Luxor as “the secret of art” that has not yet been fully explored. With these features, he said, it was worthy of Luxor to be a global centre for art in today’s contemporary world.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 5 January, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly