Omar El-Nagdi (Egypt, 1931-2019) Viol a Sarajevo

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Lot 23TP
Omar El-Nagdi
(Egypt, 1931-2019)
Viol a Sarajevo

Sold for £ 47,750 (US$ 65,344) inc. premium
Omar El-Nagdi (Egypt, 1931-2019)
Viol a Sarajevo
oil on canvas, framed
signed "Omar El Nagdi" and dated "92" (upper left), executed in 1992
276 x 158cm (108 11/16 x 62 3/16in).

Footnotes

  • A MONUMENTAL AND MOVING MASTERPIECE BY OMAR El-NAGDI DEPICTING THE SIEGE OF SARAJEVO

    Provenance:
    Property from the private collection of H.E Ambassador Francine Henrich

    Exhibited:
    Omar El-Nagdi, Retrospective, Institut Du Monde Arab, 1995

    'I see in you as a talented artist who will give a universal dimension to Egyptian Art' - Academic professor Ahmed Sabry to Omar El-Nagdi, 1958

    "An assault on women and children is directed against the very core of mankind."-Rudolf Arnheim

    This monumental and highly significant painting captures the unimaginable hardship, fear and anguish of the Bosnian Muslims under-siege in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. A bloody war that would see some of the worst atrocities in Europe since the Second World War. Sarajevo was under siege from the 5th April 1992 until 29th February 1996; making it the longest siege in modern day history. Like many Muslims around the world, Omar El-Nagdi found the persecution of his Muslims brothers deeply unsettling and distressing. The ongoing massacres by Bosnian Serbs, profoundly affected the Egyptian artist and urged him to react to these monstrosities by impulsively expressing himself in this composition. Suffering has been an enduring theme in art for centuries, and the tradition of painting violence, pain and oppression has long been a source of expression for artists experiencing conflict.

    Towering and striking, the present work was painted at the height of the conflict in 1992 and is one of the finest examples of the artist reacting almost concurrently to the world around him. A seminal piece of artistic activism, in the vein of some of the greatest recorded works in history like Picasso's "Guernica" and Goya's "Disasters of War". In his treatment of conflict, Nagdi clearly recalls Goya, whose set of 82 etchings were inspired by the scarring effect of the Franco-Spanish Peninsular War of 1807.

    Whilst divergent in form and composition, what Nagdi absorbs from Goya is the jarred, fragmented aesthetic that reflects the tumult of wartime discord. Goya was said to capture scenes in "agonised haste", and accordingly, the idea of the turbulence of conflict depicted with a ghoulish, monster like aesthetic is heavily incorporated in Nagdi's work. El-Nagdi transcribes literally the chaos of war, isolating each disproportioned figure onto the canvas yet bringing them all together through the agony expressed in their faces.

    His figures, or rather creatures, appear inhuman and sometimes resemble more to animals rather than people, showing how the sufferings and torturing of war has stripped them bare of their humanity and dignity. Each movement, each body part and each expression scream out from the canvas, such as the hands reaching out in despair and frightening bulging eyes of the helpless victims.
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