Having exhibited alongside the Western masters Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí, Omar El-Nagdi is one of the most important contemporary Egyptian artists of today and his works feature in the permanent collection of leading art institutions and museums around the world. Acting as a platform for the rich inter-cultural encounters between the Arab and the Western worlds, the pictorial vocabulary of El-Nagdi's oeuvre is fuelled by his home country's politics and in the lives led by Cairo citizens. He obtains such profuse imagery by combining poetry with elements inherited from twentieth century artistic trends namely Expressionism, Cubism and Fauvism. El-Nagdi also preserves in his paintings the tradition of Egyptian mural paintings and mosaics, having extensively studied the latter in Ravenna in the 1960s.
La Pharaonne is a magnificent interpretation of an interior scene at the centre of which El-Nagdi's elongated female figures elegantly towers the composition. She is seated on what appears to be a throne or a podium, possibly identifying her as the mistress of the house, as suggested by Omar El Nagdi's title La Pharaonne. The vibrant cyan pigment that defines her makes her stand out amongst the white and cobalt blue hues that dominate the painting. A multitude of figures surround her, yet they are skillfully merged into the furniture and decorations of her house. El-Nagdi offers only a few hints to everyday life objects such as the chair, table or jar and occasional faces, legs, feet and hands are scattered throughout the beautiful prismatic and almost cubist canvas. El-Nagdi instills an unrivalled lyrical dynamism to the surface of his painting by combining his knowledge of mosaics acquired in Ravenna and his commemoration of his country's cultural heritage. La Pharaonne gives an overall impression of being an Ancient Egyptian mural-painting that El-Nagdi re-invigorated with his modern touch of visually decomposing not only the composition, but also the figures and the objects, that he succeeds in bringing back together in a harmonious and magical spectrum of whites and blues. El-Nagdi used this poetic palette on several occasions such as in Femmes (1994) or Symphony in Blue of the same date, sold at Christie's Dubai in 2008.
La Pharaonne celebrates El-Nagdi's affiliation to a 'unique school', described by writer Amin Zaoui, as being 'the university where Omar El-Nagdi received his education was, first and foremost, Egypt: its land, its memory, its people. Through its history and its nature, its convergences, its contradictions and its religions, this country is a school which embraces history and nature' (A. Zaoui, Omar El Nagdi, Honfleur 1999, p. 6; translated from French by Eric Métayer, p. 96).