Egyptian artist Adel El-Siwi is a traditionalist at heart. Implementing a textural and almost primitive technique to his works, the human figure is a prominent feature as the artist tackles notions of identity, history and cultural appreciation. Aware of the fact that Egyptians are notorious for their music and film stars, Shadia belongs to a series of works produced by the artist that sought to immortalise these figures internationally.
Shadia (whose real name is Fatima Ahmad Kamal) is considered one of the most popular and most talented singers and actresses in the Arabic movie and entertainment industry. Her songs and movies are still sought after, and her songs are popular amongst all generations. She is most notably known for her performances with Farid Al-Atrash and Abdel Halim Hafez.
In Shadia, El-Siwi portrays the cute and mischievous Shadia sitting upon a large chair as if a queen sitting regally on her throne. Her surroundings are unrecognisable, yet the textural quality of the leafy wallpaper, which emanates an aura of romanticism, exemplifies the rich and lavish lifestyles of the famous. Although relatively accurate in depiction, the viewer senses a simple quality to the protagonist's face, her African heritage clearly highlighted. This essential part of Egyptian heritage - that Egyptians have African roots - is a notion that is of particular fascination to El-Siwi and one that he continues to focus within his current works. Adopting techniques that resonate with those techniques traditionally found in religious icons, El-Siwi tries to imply that these Egyptian stars, which have retired or, in the case of Shadia, passed away, should be considered treasures and part of a history that must stay somewhat sacred.