A study published in Prof.Dr Amal Nasr “Mirrors of Emotion” 2013 Fine Art Horizons Series Editor-in-Chief: Prof. Dr. Mustafa Abdel Moati General Authority for Cultural Palaces
Mohammed Salem Abstract Expressionism The artist cannot ignore the conditions of the era in which he lives, as they control his vision and define his artistic language. There is no doubt that our contemporary world, with its chaos and unreasonableness, makes any artist turn to search for a spiritual truth or a kind of feeling of stability in order to seek fixed concepts, so the trend of abstraction is An intuitive need for the contemporary artist, whereby abstraction makes it possible to extract things from their constantly changing context, and to achieve stability for the values inherent in them. From here, artist Mohamed Salem searched for the subject of art in its basic structural elements: line, color, light, space, texture.. and that in abstract formations that excluded the sensory manifestations that spoil its original purity, and soon those abstracts create a state of sympathy with the underlying world within every human being; It is as if the human soul participates in its relief from the weight of sensory perceptions associated with reality with all its bewilderment. Art is a rediscovery and new establishment of the elements of a work of art in a world of forms. And the artist organizes these elements in a way that makes them have a rhythm that pulsates with a life of its own. The artist respected the flat of the image without engaging in the game of illusion, and was loyal to the special language of photography and organized its construction and the course of the creative process, including the stages of construction and demolition, so that each part of the flat takes its own history, including during the creative process of colors, lines, textures, deletions and additions. Also, parts of the work surface that are still white are left untouched by color, thus carrying the spectra of the artist’s performance and his confusion with it, and the tension of the early beginnings. Therefore, the works of the artist Mohamed Salem are abstract, but they carry an expressive dimension with a clear presence. Perhaps this expressive dimension in his abstract works also achieves the nature of the designs that charged the geometric shapes with sensuality. For example: we find in one of his works a huge rectangle of stained glass with degrees ranging from white to black in vertical lines and regular rectangles, and suddenly the lines drift in an irregular diagonal way like a moving waterfall roaring, and in the middle of it is a circle within which it belongs to a different structural system to start another dialogue in turn.
Or if he presents in a public place a huge glass window, then we find him on the wall next to it making a group of colored glass triangles that disturb the density of the walls and darken it with triangles of scattered colored light. Or he presents in one of his works in the technique of stained glass with gypsum a delicate arabesque curtain of light extending vertically that looks like a piece of thin lace that makes us forget the weight of the material, and transfers the technique from the craft space to new creative fields. The artist achieves the internal movement in his mural works, depending on the varying effects caused by the different sizes of pieces of glass, stones, marble or ceramics. This is determined by the internal interaction of the materials through the joints, the black lines of cohesion or the spaces that the artist invests in driving the internal movement of the work. In his works executed with raw glass, the artist makes the studded adjacent pieces of glass give a poetic feeling with a subtle optical vibration. The glass surface appears as if it ripples and sparkles with the light that it radiates and the light it receives, transforming the hard, hard materials into obedient materials that carry all the values of formation. The works of Mohamed Salem convey to us his delicate sense and his ability to perceive relationships in form that correspond to his mental perceptions, as well as his emotional response as an artist towards them. He tried to revitalize the surface of the painting by searching for new formulas for the relationship between form and space, color and line, and between all the contradictions of the artwork. The visual richness of the artwork was the artist’s most important concern. It does not provide tinsel or momentum in the shapes or elements, but often unites the structure of the image has in one suggestive form that includes its elements and details. Or the design of the painting is singled out in the form of a rectangle unified with the boundaries of the work without paying attention to the old concepts of the relationship of shape and ground. The color has deep dimensions that suggest antiquity, sobriety and time, and it moves between faint harmony and intense sensuality, between strong touches of light, and violence of lines that reflect the speed of the artist’s hand during work, with which he tries to anticipate the idea and convey the emotional impulse without embellishment.
The circle is one of the artist’s favorite choices, as its unique solutions are repeated in many of his flat murals and figurative works. The plastic value of the circle is that if it is placed in front of us, the eye will fall on its center as the center of gravity that attracts all points. In this situation, the sensation generated by us is homogeneous, regardless of the direction that the eye may push to look at, as the eye can move in the circle easily to coordinate between its parts and distinguish between them in importance. This explains the emotional nature of the circle. And if the circle is a shape that lacks the character of excitement despite its simplicity and purity of beauty, and despite the splendor of its connection… However, the artist has given it solutions that earned it a lot of vitality and richness. Sometimes we find him occupying the circle with a network of lines that limit spaces between them that take a basic form in the design, parts of it located above the work and parts of it below the work, alternately attracting the eye, and sometimes he divides the circle into squares, each of which represents an integrated work of art, and at the same time all parts of the work are united as a work An integrated one, which reminds us of the Gestalt theory. The artist also uses in his design solutions the diagonal lines inside the circle, which achieves vibration and movement of its stable surface, and suggests entering into space dimensions despite the abstract solution to the work. In its sandstone circles, the circle is built of mosaic pieces of a desert color, then interspersed in the middle with a zigzag area of azure green as a waterway in the middle of the desert, and the green is studded with delicate color spots of warm orange, breaking the monotonous regularity of the circle. This is in addition to his wonderful solutions to the group of circuits found in his large mural “Ahmed Zewail”. Many of his works in mosaic technique take the character of stone letters, and their letters are mosaic pieces of various sizes and directions, and their shadows on the surface and on each other draw a spatial depth based on the movement of shadows and the suggestive address of the sight. We may see him in other works transforming the mosaic surface of a stone city in the heart of the desert, as if we see it at a high altitude from the window of an airplane. The artist also presented a set of stereoscopic mosaic works to combine sculpture and photography, through models of irregular organic shapes, covered with marble pieces, so that the flat colored design moves on a model, adding new plastic values related to the mass such as prominent, recessed, shadow and light, and the stability of the design is supported by a dark slice. Below it is topped by a light area in which dark scattered lines move to connect the two contrasting planes. In general, the artist relies on the best of theories that appeared in the preference for form in the artistic experience, which is the theory of the signified form, that is, the form that provokes an aesthetic emotion in us. The artist, Mohamed Salem, with modern Egyptian mural painting, went out of the fields of decorative ornaments, tourist topics and applied crafts to the field of contemporary formation, and he endured the hardship of pioneers in passing this even at the level of lack of raw materials, so he invents his materials using the simplest tools such as popular municipal glass, trying to manufacture glass tiles From him he uses it in his formations, and also developed the idea of stained glass with gypsum through his academic studies. The artist continued his research in creating his materials and techniques, such as his use of the back of ceramic pieces with their distinctive texture and pottery color, and his use of the edges of adjacent pieces of glass instead of using them as a flat surface. And in this a dedication to the special aesthetic of mosaic, which depends on the idea of imperfect beauty, a contemporary vision of mosaic that denies that it is just a surface prepared with mortar, to be covered with pieces of colored materials to depict or represent a scene, which gave great freedom and boldness in dealing with mosaic technique. Many artists later made use of these techniques in their works. The artist also participated, through his work as a professor of photography at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Alexandria University, in the establishment of the Mural Painting Division in the early eighties in the Painting Department of the Faculty of Fine Arts – Alexandria University, and developed a scientific method for the study that includes the three basic techniques of mural painting, namely: frac, mosaic, and stained glass.
Throughout his artistic career, his first concern was not to participate in a painting in an exhibition. Rather, he was concerned with the exit of the artwork from the walls of exhibition halls with a limited audience to the public places to become part of the life of the community, and to stay away from the delusions that make art a special service for the elite. Hence, the academic studies that he undertook or that before supervising them took a scientific, social and applied approach. To directly benefit the idea of art in society. He is a serious realist, characterized by neutrality and objectivity, trying to take his aspirations for the artistic movement into practical forms through his follow-up of many activities. He works and leaves others to appear, and on many cultural occasions that he took on the responsibility of preparing, supervising and presenting, he made every effort, but he hides in moments of honor or celebration. The creative journey of the artist Muhammad Salem testifies that he remained faithful to the language of form, and moved away in his works from the sensual ornaments that give fleeting pleasure to the ordinary connoisseur. Even in his works that occupy public places, he refused to be drawn into the demands of the market, and presented his true plastic experience that he did not interfere to tame it according to what was required, and throughout that trip he was preoccupied with creative work more than his preoccupation with forming a network of public relations and propaganda that he invests in presenting his works. From here, the artistic journey of the great artist, Dr. Mohamed Salem, traces a long history of respect, hard work and creativity, which places him as one of the pioneers of contemporary Egyptian plastic art.
Mohamed Salem: He was born in Sohag Governorate in 1940, graduated from the Painting Department, Faculty of Fine Arts, Alexandria University in 1964, and taught there and participated in the establishment of the Mural Painting Division in it. He obtained a Doctorate of Philosophy in Painting in 1982. He studied mosaic at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ravna – Italy in 1983, a member of the International Association of Contemporary Mosaic Artists AIMC – Italy, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Alexandria Center for City Beautification, he organized many artistic events, and presented many mural works, the most important of which is the mural of Zewail Square in Alexandria. He held many personal exhibitions and represented Egypt internationally in many art fairs.
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