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 colors 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, and was one of the forerunners of the late 1930s - early 1940s avant-garde and controversial Egyptian Surrealist group known as 'Art et Liberté'.
His leftist political views led to his arrest in 1946, following which he was released on bail. He then moved to Paris, where he remained until being laid off for refusing to broadcast news against the Egyptian state by the French broadcasting service he worked for, in conjunction with the Suez Canal crisis in 1956. 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. The present work reveals his newfound abstract style which had previously aided in cementing his reputation at his first Parisian solo exhibition held in 1948 at the Galerie Nina Daussey. The introduction written by Racha Ragab, curator at the Museum of Modern Art, Cairo, for the exhibition catalogue of the solo show she put together for Ramsès Younan in 2009, encapsulates the essence of Younan's 1960s lyrical compositions, that pioneered abstraction on the artistic scene in Egypt:
'In Ramsès Younan's works, the composition is as much baroque as it is classical. The proliferation of lines, resulting from the numerous horizontals and the hatched perpendiculars as if they caused the composition's body to bleed, the very ingenious transitions into the softer and almost infinite areas that are illuminated by the ochers and purples heightened by gold - all these intrinsic qualities are the foundations of an internal reality fused with a way of thinking that is subtle, coherent and physically true.
Nevertheless, an overall harmony always dominates the painting, giving it a classical accent. The coloristic constants he uses converge at the core of a unique colour tone: a scaly brown, a purpled green, a red-orange pigment and a mauve-brown colour, accentuate their multiple resonances, bathed in a golden light, pacifying the contrasts and synchronizing the subtle sensations from the dream and from the life.
His painting is that of an intellectual, of a poet and of a man who is 'torn between two worlds', to use Maurice de Gurin's word.' (R. Ragab, in exh. cat. Exposition de l'Artiste Défunt; RAMSIS YOUNAN 1913- 1966, Museum of Modern Art (Salle Abaad), Cairo 2009, pp. 56-57; translated from French).