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Ramsès Younan (Egyptian, 1913-1966)
Lots are subject to 5% import Duty on the importat… Read more RAMSÈS YOUNANE ARTIST'S ESTATE FROM SURREALISM TO ABSTRACTION 'True Egyptian art will not exist unless our past heritage is allowed to react with international heritage. Only that will lead us to establish a foundation for our modern art. Therefore, we should not fear any innovation, no matter how extreme it may be, for those who fight innovation under the pretext of protecting our national identity reveal the weakness of their faith in its potential for growth.' (Ramsès Younan quoted). Egyptian artist, writer and activist Ramsès Younan is perhaps best known for his introduction of structural abstract art in the region. He derived most of his inspiration from Southern Egypt and its natural environment, typically seen depicted in the gentle lighting and softly layered colours in his works. A notable intellectual, he actively partook in the publications of a myriad of periodicals with topics ranging from politics to fine art. Born and raised in Minya, Egypt in 1913, Younan enrolled at the School of Fine Arts in Cairo in 1929 withdrawing in 1933, before working as an art teacher across the country's secondary schools until 1941. From 1933 to 1938, Younan regularly exhibited at the Salon du Caire, which was then sponsored by the Friends of the Fine Arts Society. He became a founding member of the Art and Freedom Society, an antifascist organisation which protested against the oppression of artistic expression in Nazi Germany. Furthermore, he published the influential Aim of the Modern Artist (Cairo 1938) in order to expand public awareness of Modern art, especially in his native country. In 1943, he assumed the role of editor of El Megalla el Jedida, an Egyptian revolutionary and artistic publication, upholding his status as a prominent writer and critic. In 1945, he completed the first Arabic translation of Arthur Rimbaud's masterpiece entitled Une Saison en Enfer. Younan's subsequent move to Paris had a full-scale impact on his works. By the 1960s, his style had wholly developed into abstraction, leaving behind his days as one of Egypt's leading and most daring surrealist artists. Lot 115 in the present sale, painted circa 1963, reveals his newfound abstract style which had previously aided in cementing his reputation at his first Parisian solo exhibition held in 1948. It was in Paris in 1947 that he became heavily involved in media, generally working in the Arabic divisions of French broadcasting channels. Younan returned to Egypt in 1956 following his refusal to denounce the Egyptian government in French media over the Suez Crisis. He then delved profoundly into his art and three years later held a Cairo exhibition, Vers l'Inconnu, revealing his new artistic approach. In 1957, he was appointed at the Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organisation. Ramsès Younan is considered to be instrumental in introducing the concept of abstraction in art to Egypt. He is also credited with reinforcing Surrealism in the Egyptian art scene through his initial works and remains considered as one of the founding fathers of the Arab Surrealist Movement, despite a successive shift in his style towards structural abstraction. Many of Younan's works can currently be found in the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art in Cairo. PROPERTY FROM THE ARTIST'S ESTATE
Ramsès Younan (Egyptian, 1913-1966)


Ramsès Younan (Egyptian, 1913-1966)
signed with the artist's initials 'R.Y.' (lower right); inscribed in Arabic (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
38 1/8 x 51¼in. (97 x 130cm.)
Painted circa 1963
The Artist's Estate.
Venice, XXXII Biennale Exhibition of International Art, Egyptian Pavilion, 1964, no. 22 (titled: Une certaine lumière).
Special Notice

Lots are subject to 5% import Duty on the importation value (low estimate) levied at the time of collection shipment within UAE. For UAE buyers, please note that duty is paid at origin (Dubai) and not in the importing country. As such, duty paid in Dubai is treated as final duty payment. It is the buyer's responsibility to ascertain and pay all taxes due.
Post Lot Text
Sylvie and Sonia Younan and Jean Colombain have kindly confirmed the authenticity of this work. This work will be included in the forthcoming Ramsès Younan Catalogue raisonné.
Sale Room Notice
Please note that the image of this work should be rotated 180 degrees and not as it appears in the printed catalogue.

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Lot Essay

'The credit is likewise due to this Surrealist Movement as the first serious attempt to create a new myth in which reality and the supernatural, manifestation and the intrinsic, wisdom and madness, apogee and perigee, life and death meet and become source of light and inspiration to bewildered yearning souls who have been seized by the various factors of confusion, doubt and unease. (...) It is no longer in the conscious artist's power in this age to make a house for himself in the embrace of a nature which has lost its transparency in his eye. Nor can he be satisfied with a life in the artificial frame of harmonious geometrical forms or borrowed metaphors. Therefore we see him now intentionally exploding these forms, hoping to stumble across the primary essence of Being and its hidden features under the debris'.
(Ramsès Younan quoted in S.Ghareib, Surrealism in Egypt, Cairo 1986, p. 37).

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