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

Umm Kulthoum

Adam Henein (Egyptian, b. 1929)
Umm Kulthoum
incised with artist's signature and number 'A.HENEIN I.IIX' (on the base)
bronze with black patina
height: 595/8 in. (151.5cm.)
Executed in 2008, this work is number one from an edition of eight plus four artist's proofs
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
Mona Khazindar (ed.), Adam Henein, Milan 2005 (another from the edition illustrated, pp. 182-183).
M. Shatanawi, "Curating for a Change: Contemporary Art at the Tropenmuseum Today" on Global Art Museum website, 2008 (another from the edition illustrated, accessed online).
S. Eigner, Art of the Middle East: Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World and Iran, London 2010 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 100).
Cairo, Amir Taz Palace, Adam Henein Retrospective, 2006 (another from the edition exhibited).
Dubai, Artspace DIFC, ARTSPACE Grand Opening Group Exhibition, 2008 (another from the edition exhibited).
Abu Dhabi, Gallery One, Opening The Doors: Collecting Middle Eastern Art - Works from art patrons secured by Christie's, 2010-2011 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated in colour, p. 115). Cairo, Al Masar Gallery, ADAM HENEIN & VI Sculptors, 2009 (another from the edition exhibited).
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Lot Essay

The acclaimed and internationally renowned Egyptian sculptor and occasional painter Adam Henein gained artistic recognition for his use of ancient Egyptian themes and traditional materials coupled with his evident Modernist style that was inherited from European art history.

Born in Egypt in 1929 where he was trained as a sculptor, Henein settled in Paris in the early 1970s and travelled extensively in the West, yet his works remained profoundly rooted in Egyptian and particularly Pharaonic history. The minimalism of form and the way the artist subtly captures light and colour through texture in his figurative sculptures are unprecedented.

The present work from the 2000s, a polished and lustrous bronze sculpture, depicts the internationally famous Egyptian singer, songwriter and actress Umm Kulthoum. The diva is almost recognisable despite the minimalism of form through the rendition of her silk handkerchief that she was known to wave during her celebrated performances. In a career that lasted more than fifty years, Umm Kulthoum known as the Arab world's greatest singer and the voice and face of Egypt captured the emotional depth of the poems she set to music. Her trance-like performances made her become a true phenomenon not only in Egypt, but also abroad and many Arab artists dedicated their works to the diva, marking her legacy.

Here, Henein abstracts almost all of the singer's features, making the figure almost unrecognisable, yet he strikingly depicts her femininity and charming allure through forms that capture contrasts of light and shadow, swelling underneath her minimal drapery. The artist's influences from Egyptian archeological history as well as his country's popular culture are clearly definable, yet the sculpture is also reminiscent of the abstract and curvilinear works of European Modern artists such as Constantin Brancusi whose works stood out with their smooth quality and impressive elegance. Henein's exceptional rendition of Umm Kulthoum reveals a perfect balance between his cultural heritage and his mastery of contemporary styles and it unveils the artist's outstanding maturity.

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