Gallery Tilal } Helmi El-Touni Retrospective

i want it all and i want it now: this exhibition was a collaboration between the gallery and mr. khaled al abdul mughni. al abdul mughni has been a true lover and patron of the arts for all the time i've known him. because of him, we have this wonderful chance to view el-touni's work without having to travel far

As I walked into Gallery Tilal this morning, it dawned on me like a warm Pharaonic sun: I’ve just died and gone to Helmi El-Touni heaven. Around sixty of the Egyptian artist’s works, from 1988 to 2011, are currently on display at Gallery Tilal for just three nights. If you missed the opening last night, you have a chance to go tonight or tomorrow. If you’re a fan of classic Egyptian art, El-Touni’s works are rife with the country’s folkloric iconography and symbolism. My inspiration was rekindled today when I looked at his earlier works and realized the effect his paintings had on my fledgling art in the late 80s and early 90s. For example, my use of blunt drop shadows was greatly influenced by El-Touni among others. I had forgotten all that until today. 

from his collection 'the return', 1989: see what i mean about the shadow? totally incongruous with the object it belongs to but highly effective and dramatic

from his collection 'the return', 1993: this one looks like a stained-glass window. check out the fish and the bird: i'm not sure why these two animals, among others, are motifs in el-touni's paintings specifically, but according to ancient egyptian mythology, fish guided and warned the god osiris against the snake-god set, and many birds were deified, such as thoth, the god of wisdom

bless. he's human after all :)

this one stopped me in my tracks. it's so pallid and ghostly; and the way it's hung just serves to accentuate its ethereal quality

from his collection 'beauty and the beast', 1999: i first saw this painting eleven years ago at the ahmed al-adwany gallery, and fell in love with it. it has all the elements i love in a painting, subject-wise and technically

this is a detail of one of his 1999 works: what better bird to represent great egypt but the ibis. and here she is with an egg. birth? re-birth?

oh my god, this is my friend awatef! of course it isn't. it's just a spitting image of one of my very close friends. that was a very, very bizarro moment for me

this is a more recent piece. very surreal and the fish is dead and eaten. his work is unabashedly symbolic, something i'm normally averse to, but in my book helmi el-touni gets away with it with great aplomb

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