Muhammed Taha Hussein: Contemporary Artist Awarded in Egypt
The Mubarak Prize for Arts recipient this year is artist professor Muhammad Taha Hussein, a contemporary artist who illustrates the fine balance between modern and tradition.
Mr. Hussein is a gentle giant of a man who stands tall in height, with encompassing hands and has a large vision for the arts and life in general. His enthusiasm for new designs, new technique and new ideas is appealing. Especially when he recognizes his roots in historical neighborhoods in Cairo contrasted by his time in Germany. This constant balance between new and old is reflected in his work.
Mr. Hussein, who is featured at Al Masar Gallery of contemporary art in Cairo, utilizes geometric shapes along the side of Islamic architecture and calligraphy. All the while suggesting a hushed social or political conversation. As we talked about contemporary art; architecture; the library he formed at Helwan University; he quietly tucked away two Stella beer caps for the star logo for the current art piece he is creating. He reminds me of Mario Botta, the architect, who is constantly pushing the boundaries of new design while complementing the environment and local traditions.
During my visit with Mr. Hussein, he is the one whom I mentioned earlier who noted the significance of President Barack Obama’s recent visit. The he brought his hands together, gently resting his fingers together shaping a gesture of prayer or the pinnacle of a building. Mr. Hussein noted that first, President Obama visited the ‘pyramid’ of Islam in Egypt the Sultan Hussein Mosque and then he visited the Pyramids of Egypt in Giza. This in his opinion was the symbolic gesture that President Obama understood the nature of Islam, the nature of Egyptians and the path for future good relations.
Understanding the notions of society, faith, family, politics, traditions, shapes and ultimately storytelling through the arts is the driving spirit behind Mr. Hussein’s art. The Mubarak Prize for Art is well-deserved recognition for Mr. Hussein’s life dedicated to the arts.
By Keri Douglas, writer/photographer, Washington, DC
In Ode Magazine