This artwork describes The High Dam of Alexandria and it was painted using Oil on canvas by one of the renowned Egyptian artist, Seif Wanly who was born in the year 1906 and died in the year 1979. The art was done between 1959 and 1966 on a size of 94*111.5cm. I chose this piece because I found it touching with its unique colors and style, in this case, the more I read about it, the more I learned about the artist, and I became more convinced that it has a special feature that calls for my attention to prove in the paper. The High Dam artwork presents a modern distinctive distribution of art elements and expresses experienced employment of art principles. Arts are of great importance in the society and analysis of the art of The High Dam proves the same. The way art principles are employed and the expression of art elements are crucial in presentation of the modern distinctive nature of The High Dam artwork.
The distribution of art elements is evident in the composition of the whole space which also depends on the negative and positive views of the spaces. This composition is structured mainly on two basic forms which depict the two mountains between which the dam was built, the spaces are set in a diagonal order where one is to the right and one is to the left. This ensured that they created the positive space of the painting because the water surface was the negative space that is on top of the work while the dam is in the bottom of the work. The artist managed to study the composition and considered analyzed the forms and how to balance them in a noticeable manner.
The second element that adds to the distinctiveness of the art is the use of line and form in a modern style to present the shape of the landscape. In order to do so, the artist used a scale of different sizes of lines in different shapes to describe the two mountains; the lines come in wide and thin brush strokes to structure the details of the mountain side. Seif gained his objective in creating a special atmosphere in this painting with the repeated manner of the brush strokes that are used in both negative space of the water surface and the positive space of the two mountains. This represents the grieving period that Seif Wanly suffered when his brother passed away, this is also the period was when they were both recruited to document the high dam area ("Seif Wanly"). This painting presents his mental status and his sad mood all combined with his special skills in using art elements to express his emotions.
The pallet of colors in this painting explain a sad and moody personality and they help in presenting distinctive distribution of art elements. The painting is first interpreted as the sundown of the landscape, but when research into the history of the painting is done, there is the discovery that the artist drew it after his brothers death and it is why it carries the tough brushstrokes and the greyish dark pallet of shades and colors. This painting therefore explains a lot as it is a journey of personal agony and a journey of a great achievement of the Egyptian nation. The artist used vivid colors in describing the positive forms of the two mountains. He also used the hazel yellow color to describe the negative surface of the water and to ensure that both colors are warm. It mainly presents the concept where he describes the death of a village and the beginning of another life, this also explains his state of mind after the death of his brother. He used the shades and light corners in a unique way that carries the message of sadness, this also explains how skilled he is in arts.
This art shows years of planning and hard work of native Egyptians; this is because they suffered for years since the beginning of time from the destructive floods of the river Nile. Building this dam was a necessity to control the annual floods which took place in autumn and destroyed villages and ruined lives around it. It was then when the artist was recruited with his brother to document the building of this facility and the sinking of the nearby desert ("Aswan High Dam").
The most popular and recognizable artistic skill is the repetition of shapes and creation of the units that come between the patterns. Seif made sure to create his own technique in repeating the shapes of triangles to express the water surface, he also used the repeated rectangular shapes of the wide brush strokes to describe the two side mountains. The relationship between those elements and principles are used in a skilled style to rationalize the free space of experiments and achievement that the artist was trying to achieve in his work. It talks about how adventurous an artist can be in building his own technique and in showing the modern styles in art with original mode. Examining his other pieces of art such as the ones he did during his artistic life describing his trips to Italy and France and Holland, this piece stands out with its special motif, the sad mode and the clear brushstrokes and the repeated shapes and forms. This brings a question to my mind which is more attractive in this art piece, the whole image or the details?
Symmetry and balance are also incorporated in this piece in an amazing style, as one tries to examine the work from pole to pole, there is the difficulty of getting equal forms and spaces. Despite the fact that the whole image is diagonal and the focal point is almost in the center, there is the question of whether it was done on purpose or was it a matter of fact according to the point of view when this piece was painted and this is one of the things that catches the attention on this painting as the general shape looks crooked and it is not a straight classic landscape of some mountains.
The style of the painting is modern with its general structure, this means that the basic shapes of the mountains, water surface, and the dam can all be translated to simple geometrical shapes in their general forms also in their specific details as far as the smallest ornaments of the dam that is positioned in the bottom of the painting. It is the special style of this artwork that makes it recognizable amongst the number of paintings credible for research. It is evident that the hidden facts about this artwork that enables one to write a well-established research about the artist and his work.
The Egyptian art style is not evident in this work; however, it has an impact on the artist and this is evident in some of his pieces such as the Three Musicians and paintings from the period of Europe travels in comparison with ancient Egyptian stone relief of the dancers from the pharos era the fourth dynasty ("alfn almsry "). This means that the artist was influenced by the Egyptian style; however, this influence did not cover the high dam piece because he tried to use a different modern approach.
This artwork is not a simple portray of a landscape, it is a story of artistic history joined with Seifs life experience, it is a combination of art elements in a modern style that has a special immediate impact on the viewer, it also carries the story of the people who suffered from the floods and those who built this dam; this is therefore a story of struggle, death, sorrow and achievements.
In conclusion, this piece of art has the necessary elements to be considered in modern times; this is because of the simplicity and direct forms which are utilized in the structure of the subject. It is also considered special because of the uncommon palette of colors and the excessive usage of the dark shades and tones that explain the sad mood of the artist when he drew this painting. The distribution of the elements and the positioning of the principles are the main characteristics of this art work, this is also the subject of the work which reflects a project that exhausted the efforts and the lives of many innocent people. In this case, if there is need to draw the object or recruit an artist to draw it, there is need to choose a livelier angel and a brighter pallet of colors but keep the same style and technique used in this picture.
"Aswan High Dam." Brittanica Academic. Ed. Amy McKenna, J.E. Luebering, and Chelsey Parrott-Sheffer. Encyclopaedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.
Radwan, Nadia. "Seif Wanly." Seif Wanly. Mathaf Encyclopedia of Modern Art and the Arab World, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.
aakashh, dktor throt. alfn almsry . Egypt: dar almaaarf bmsr, n.d. Print.
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