Sharjah Art Museum
Sharjah, UAE
Until 3 June 2017

Ahmed Morsi: A Dialogic Imagination traces the artist’s diverse output from the 1940s up to the present day. Both figurative and fantastical, his paintings evoke his practice as a poet. Writing in the highly acclaimed cultural magazine Al-Khayyal, Samir Gharib, the prominent Egyptian art critic, stated that ‘Ahmed Morsi paints his poetry and writes his paintings.’ He works symbolically to create poetic representations of real events and places that are equally influenced by mythology, imagination and the subconscious. Memory, the passage of time, contemplation, isolation and lyricism are all key elements in his work.

Although he has resided in New York since 1974, he has never fully abandoned his past life in his native city and his associations with the ‘Alexandria School’. Coined by renowned Egyptian novelist and critic Edwar El Kharrat, the term defines the generation of free thinkers who came of age in 1940s Alexandria – the multi-ethnic, culturally diverse port city that became a refuge for many French and European galleries escaping war-torn Paris. Living ‘surreally’, collaborating with one another, remaining lifelong friends and each masterfully representing their chosen medium, the group included such members as playwright Alfred Farg, actor Mahmoud Morsi and writer Mounir Ramzi.

Alexandria remains for Morsi suspended in a vacuum, beyond the confines of both space and time. Yet, he does not paint what once was: he paints what he calls the ‘unique Egyptian spirit’, a spirit which encompasses 7000 years of tradition, and an atmosphere extinguished in the current geopolitical and moral landscape.

Morsi was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1930. In 1974, he moved to New York City, where he continues his work as an artist, poet and art critic from his Manhattan home.

Ahmed Morsi: A Dialogic Imagination is co-curated by Sharjah Art Foundation President and Director Hoor Al Qasimi and Dr Salah M. Hassan, Goldwin Smith Professor and Director, Institute for Comparative Modernities, Cornell University.

Also on view in Sharjah is Sharjah Biennial 13 (until June 12, 2017).


Ahmed Morsi
Self Portrait, 1957
Sharjah Art Foundation Collection