Adam Henein (Egyptian, b. 1929)
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Adam Henein (Egyptian, b. 1929)


Adam Henein (Egyptian, b. 1929)
incised with the artist's signature and number 'A. HENEIN. II IIX' (left of the base)
bronze with brown patina
56 x 13 3/8 x 10¼in. (142 x 34 x 26cm.)
Executed in 1957, this work is number two from an edition of eight
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 2012.
Cairo, Amir Taz Palace, Adam Henein Retrospective, 2006 (another from the edition exhibited).
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Lot Essay

Internationally acclaimed Egyptian artist, Adam Henein is renowned for his sculptural works in bronze, wood, clay and granite. Deeply inspired by Egypt's rich heritage, Pharaonic successions, themes and illustrations, he has the ability to elegantly combine modernity and ancestral subjects with the simplest of outcomes, which plays on his uniqueness as an Egyptian artist.

Born in 1929 into a family of metal workers, Henein was sculpting and modeling clay figures inspired by Egyptian Pharoahs from a young age. In 1953, he attended the School of Fine Arts in Cairo, after which he received a grant that allowed him to settle in Luxor. He remained in the Egyptian region of Nubia until 1965, where he had close access to remnants of the Ancient Egyptian civilisation and banks of the Nile and as a result, his works clearly draw on artistic traditions and influences from his experiencing life in Upper Egypt.

Following the war against Israel and the death of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Henein was forced to flee Egypt and seek asylum in Europe. There, he pursued his artistic training by familiarising himself with Ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. His time in Europe broadened his signature style and upon his return to Egypt in 1966, he was acclaimed as an internationally renowned artist. Upon his arrival, Farouk Hosny the Minister of Culture in Egypt appointed him to oversee the restoration of the Great Sphinx at Giza. From 1971 to 1996, although settled in Paris, Henein worked feverishly and his time spent in Europe did not affect his connection to Egypt, but rather amplified it.

Beneath the intentional simplicity of this present work lie the deep-rooted ancient influences of his beloved Egypt. Labour is a charming example from his earlier works; depicting a labour worker, similar to those portrayed on the popular hieroglyphic papyruses, the figure stands proudly in solemnity, with shoulders exaggeratedly squared and legs apart. Although relatively small, it captures the essence of ancient aesthetics through abstraction and possesses the impression of a proudly erected stele. The sculpture's simplistic form and smooth contours make it all at once modern and archaic, much like an obelisk mirrors Henein's signature style and execution. Labour is a timeless sculpture in bronze that reveals the aesthetics and cultural identity of the Egyptian art world and its ancestral legacy.

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