Born in Beheira in 1952, Egyptian painter Adel El Siwi first studied medicine in the early 1970’s before seriously considering a career as a painter. Like other Egyptian artists of the late 1970s, El Siwi, who had emigrated to Europe and North America, was compelled to return to the motherland, drawn by the power of Egypt's legacy of art aesthetic achievement. In 1980 he moved to Milan only to return to Cairo in 1990 where he currently lives and works.
After twelve years of self-training and traveling Europe and Egypt he had his first major show in 1985 at the Cairo Atelier. Since then he has participated in solo exhibitions in Egypt, Germany, Lebanon and Italy, and group exhibitions as far across the globe as Brazil and Mexico. A 1988 exhibition at the Mashrabia Gallery in Cairo marked El Siwi's transition from the human figure to the interiors cape. This new phase attempted to give the traditional still life object pride and powerful presence.
Although known for his treatment of the human figure, his latest works have been more narrative and ironic. Pure colors pierce the tonal elements, but are restrained by the somber Egyptian landscape marked by the monochromes of the desert and the grayness of Cairo. El Siwi chooses to use the trite, simple themes of flower pots, palm trees, camels, etc. For considerable time, El Siwi strongly believed that the more limited the means the stronger the potential of the expression. Hence, he refused to use any other medium of painting than painting on paper or canvas. However, in his most recent work since his participation in Venice Biennale's exhibition Modernity’s & Memories: Recent Works from the Islamic World, a room installation entitled The Face and Beyond, El Siwi explores the new genre of conceptual art through painting.
The artwork in this exhibition explores the following: “While choosing the artwork for this exhibition, I was dominated by two flairs: First the Monochrome, where I wanted to reduce the colors and deal only with black, white and gold. The second flair was to intensify the presence of the color and maximizing its role in telling the story, as if I wanted to push the color beyond its own limits.
This exhibition has two significant themes. One theme is highly focused on human faces- with Pharaonic and African features alongside an attempt to deal with the Oriental Regality especially in the two Ottoman Princesses. The other theme is focused on fables, in which my passion for animals is highly revealed.”