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Farouk Hosny/Adam Henein at the Metropolitan Museum
 
     
 
Adam Henein
Owl
 
Farouk Hosny
Untitled
1992
Installed in a gallery located in the middle of the ancient Egyptian wing at the Met, this show of modern art is as startling as it is enlightening. On view were works by two of Egypt's foremost contemporary artists, the painter Farouk Hosny and the sculptor Adam Henein.

Hosny is a 58-year-old Cairo resident who studied in Paris. He is noted for being one of the few painters in the Islamic world whose abstract works are not based on calligraphy. The colorful, large, untitled canvases on view here seem related to Tachiste painting or to American Abstract Expressionism, but certain landscape elements appear throughout.

Henein works in stone and metal. His large-scale monolithic pieces in granite resemble Cubist sculpture, but only in his abstracted figures and animals in stone and bronze does one realize that much of Henein's work reflects the crisp, sleek lines and monumentality of ancient Egyptian art.

Besides a group of large, free-standing works, Henein showed numerous smaller works in cast bronze and welded metal. These playful abstract and figurative objects give a hint of Henein's wide-ranging and graceful oeuvre.

A report last fall in the Wall Street Journal suggested that Hosny was given the show in return for helping organize "Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids," which closed at the museum last month. However the exhibition was obtained, the artist figures prominently in the book Contemporary Egyptian Art, and it is an interesting idea for contemporary Egyptian art to appear in the midst of the ancient Egyptian wing.

"Farouk Hosny/Adam Henein: Contemporary Egyptian Artists and Heirs to an Ancient Tradition," Sept. 14, 1999-Jan. 23, 2000, at the Metropolitan Museum.


DAVID EBONY is associate managing editor at Art in America.