In the present painting, Omar El-Nagdi created a fictional character to embody his poetic vision of the human being. This person is defined by a mesh of continuous calligraphy that constitutes its body, neck, head and feet, very different from the artist's usually elongated figures that are most often depicted with vibrant colours against an opulent and highly decorative background. The sobre palette El-Nagdi used for his representation of the 'human being' is toned down to an elegant beige pigment, heightened by a soft turquoise-blue colour in the background and by the contrast with the white calligraphy intertwined with black, reddish-brown and blue body of the figure.
El-Nagdi is renowned for his mosaic-like compositions, bursting with colours, that explore traditional and folkloric Egyptian subject matters, as exemplified by the previous lot in the sale, La Pharaonne. From that perspective, Al-Insan stands out as an exceptional work in El-Nagdi's oeuvre offering a rare insight into his personal contemplation of humanity and of how he identified the 'human being', a subject that was very dear to him. A similar work by El-Nagdi, entitled Cosmology (1990) was sold by Christie's Dubai in April 2008, and represents the structure of the universe with a comparable calligraphic web as Al-Insan. Both works convey the complexity of both the universe in terms of structure, and of the human being in terms of psychology, but also the infinite nature of the cosmos and the single-threaded life of a person. The lyricism and the purity of the compositions' colours emphasise the beauty of both cosmology and humanity, giving them both a spiritual dimension, drawing the beholder's attention. This ambitious painterly filigree pattern, symbolising at times the cosmos and other times the human being, became a recurrent motif in some of Omar El-Nagdi's most outstanding compositions, such as in his monumental triptych Sarajevo (1992).