Tayseer Hamed on Experimentation, Abstractism and Combining Intuitive Visions
Born in Cairo in 1955, Tayseer Hamed is a well-seasoned member of Egypt’s contemporary art scene. “His signature technique and his experimentation with diverse colour palettes link together three decades of his work. A closer look reveals how his canvases represent the dense tapestry of Egyptian culture and folklore.” Hamed has held numerous solo exhibitions in Cairo, Dubai, and Doha (Qatar). His art has also been the subject of multiple shows at Ubuntu Gallery, Cairo Opera House, Cairo Museum of Modern Art, and Saad el Khadem and Effat Nagui Museum. Hamed’s work is held in many private and public collections, including the Cairo Museum of Modern Art. In this interview with Omenka, Hamed discusses his journey as an artist, his work, and his most recent show.
Tell us a little about the pivotal moment you decided to become an artist, and about your formative years.
There are many factors that have enabled my talent to spark and pay off from an artistic atmosphere that is capable of communicating with my identities at the beginning of my career. Talent can only grow with care and guidance. Meeting some of the greatest artists of that time had an impact on my artistic awareness and natural talent. That was the pivotal moment for developing a sense for art and artists.
“His signature technique and experimentation with diverse colour palettes link together three decades of his work. A closer look reveals how his canvases represent the dense tapestry of Egyptian culture and folklore.” In your opinion, what informs this analysis of your oeuvre, and how has your work evolved over this 30-year period?
From various details, the depth of human experience and the extent of its connection with heritage underlines. The observer sees the great influence of the cultural density and Egyptian folklore as a major component to create forms of an abundant colour symphony. That’s where the natural development comes to highlight my artistic personality and break free from the ordinary by changing the form and breaking old ideals.
The abstract nature of your work derives largely from an interest in surface textures and the materiality of your paint. How vital are process and technique in imbuing your work with meaning?
I belong to the momentary line, which requires a multi-detail atmosphere and a dive in place to reach a state of uniqueness. Here comes the role of the surface and its variation and process as a focal point of abstraction by adding subdivision elements with distinguished and clear chromatic ruminations with very special emotions in order to emphasise the aesthetic value as a harmonious matrix, which is part of the work structure.
Your work has been the subject of multiple shows at the Cairo Opera House, Cairo Museum of Modern Art, and Saad el Khadem and Effat Nagui Museum. How would you quantify your achievements so far?
You cannot quantify the achievements of an artwork or artist in itself. They are the perspectives of an art critic with good intentions. The artist should work with sincerity and dedication without looking at what will be. As for my work, I focus on the surface and control it through blocks of objects and shapes, then I break them down and freely release them. And I may use them as figures that meet and interact with their elements. Realism in my work is transformed into a cognitive artistic effect, where it is possible to leave the forms unfinished through the concept of combining sensory and intuitive visions. Then comes museums’ and individuals’ acquisition, which is a personal achievement with a future value.
Did Duet Exhibition: Abstract Angles (2018) meet your objectives, and how well did the public receive the show?
Abstract Angles did meet my objectives, but not my aspirations. The public received a real dose of sincere artworks, and the viewer was moved by its context and form.
How would you describe the contemporary art scene in Egypt, and in what ways does it differ from those in Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the continent?
The contemporary art scene in Egypt is characterised by great artistic popularity, which possesses a distinctive style with unique identity and various codes. Egypt is a centre of civilisation and culture that transcends its diverse artistic practices. Other aspects appear behind the desert, where the main influence of the artistic movement is different in the concept of contemporary art and moves relatively towards the broader and is free from the disadvantages of slow deadlock.
Considering your long and successful career, what advice would you give to the younger generations of Egyptian and African artists following in your footsteps?
Direct advice in general may not be acceptable, but art is knowledge and life. Hard work is a key element in its completion and accessibility to an acceptable form, but excellence requires a different kind of effort, continuous reading and cultivation. Do not consider time, as it may be long. Not rushing plays a major role in completing the work. Getting out of limited space is important and necessary for African youth.
Like many accomplished artists today, you work in series. Are you presently completing one, and do you have any upcoming show or collaboration?
I am currently studying otherworldly things. For the next exhibition, I’m trying to rearrange them according to a vision that unites their differences with colour treatments that may take time to become a standout project that will leave a clear impact on the fine arts movement. This exhibition will be the beginning of a set of connected, time-related exhibitions to focus on and absorb the idea.
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