Reda Abdel Rahman
Reda Abdel Rahman was born in Ismalia, Egypt studied at the University of Minya at the College of Fine Arts. Being surrounded by outstanding Pharaonic monuments and Coptic monasteries left a lasting impression on Reda Abdel Rahman, one of Egypt’s leading contemporary artists. It has resulted in his artistic expression focusing on the relationship between what he regards as his ancient Egyptian heritage and the demands of contemporary life.
One of the key focal points in his work is that happiness, indeed “a good life,” are intricately related to what is grown and gleaned from the fields of Egypt and the Nile Valley, and hence serves as a reoccurring theme in his art. Reda’s work draws strength from the nurturing Nile which serves as a source for his creativity.
Also, unlike much of contemporary Arab art, Reda has been seen as ground-breaking in that he draws and presents to us the naked or semi-naked female figure in his pictures, believing profoundly that women are central to the well-being of the family which is a commonly held value in Egyptian society.
Through Reda’s work we see the combination of Pharaonic and decorative motifs. He draws a direct relationship to the hieroglyphs that the ancients left behind. Taking this further and incorporating the ancient traditions, he has designed many mosaics that decorate many cities throughout Egypt. Indeed, his work can take on monumental proportions, whether it is large canvases or murals, depicting scenes that are of old yet at the same time new. More recently he has powerfully focused on the Egyptian revolutionary events of January 2011.
Not only has Reda enjoyed a prolific and international career in the Arts but he has also encouraged others by participating in a number of varied initiatives designed to promote artists and the Egyptian art scene. In this regard, he has been integral to the formation of internationally recognized events such as the Luxor Painting Symposium and the formation of the annual Aswan Sculpture Symposium. He has also led the Fustat workshops in Old Cairo that brings together a range of artists from around the Middle East. Reda also established an art magazine and curates a gallery in downtown Cairo, both of which are titled Portrait.
Reda is an important founding artist in the acclaimed interfaith CARAVAN Festival of the Arts (www.oncaravan.org). In 2013, he participated in the exhibition “In Peace and with Compassion – the Way Forward”. He sculpted two fiberglass donkeys in different sizes, which he, as well as 45 different Egyptian and western artists, painted in their own unique vision of the theme of the exhibition.
In 2014, he sculpted four different poses of prayer in a life-size 3D fiberglass human form for the “Amen – A Prayer for the World” Caravan exhibition. In this unique visual art exhibition, 48 premier and emerging artists (30 Egyptian-both Muslim and Christian, and 18 Western--Christian and Jewish) are participating. It first opened in Cairo, Egypt on June 18 in the grounds of the Cairo Opera House, then it went on to the world-renowned National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and in October will be showing in New York City at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Each of the 48 participating artists have painted and decorated a fiberglass sculpture in one of four poses of prayer with their own message to the world.
Reda Abdel Rahman is an artist who seeks to use the Arts as a means to build bridges between the East and West, and between Muslims and Christians. His artistic career has taken him around the world, from Latin America to Europe. His solo exhibition “Through Ancient Eyes” is currently showing at the Syra Arts Gallery in Georgetown, Washington DC (www.syra-arts.com).
In September, he will start a six week residency with the theme of “I am Everyone” at MECA, a part of MANA Contemporary (http://manacontemporary.com/meca/), just outside Manhattan in Jersey City. MECA’s core mission is to support and promote contemporary art from the Middle East while encouraging artistic collaboration and dialogue.