b. 1952 Behera, Egypt, Adel El Siwi lives and works in Cairo.
Known for reframing traditional Egyptian painting techniques in a contemporary context, portrait artist, Adel El Siwi, is a pivotal figure in Egypt’s contemporary art scene.
While studying medicine at Cairo University during the Seventies El Siwi honed his painting practice through independent study at the Faculty of Fine Arts. Having completed his education, in 1976, he began painting full time before returning to Milan, Italy in 1980 where he lived and worked for a decade before returning to Cairo in 1990.
Driven by the belief that Egypt is closely aligned with native African culture, El Siwi’s focus falls primarily on the human face. The painter’s pared back palette is one of his defining features; his selective use of colour takes the stance that ‘less is more’. His works are typically viewed in series which allows for different emotional states to be conveyed.
El Siwi’s first major exhibition was at the Cairo Atelier, Egypt (1980) and since then he has exhibited widely across the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, with solo shows at Mashrabia Gallery of Contemporary Art, Cairo, Egypt (1988–2017); Epreuve d’Artiste, Beirut, Lebanon (1993); Accademia d’Egitto, Rome, Italy (1996); Ammar Farhat, Tunis, Tunisia (2003); Al Riwaq, Manama, Bahrain (2003); Atassy Gallery, Damascus, Syria (2004); French Cultural Center, Alexandria, Egypt (2005); Mahmoud Khalil Museum, Cairo, Egypt (2010) and Galerie Inception, Paris, France (2012). He has presented solo exhibitions at the Tabari Artspace galleries in London, UK (2013) and Dubai, UAE (2007–2017).
El Siwi has participated in the Cairo Biennale (1996, 2008), Sharjah Biennial (1997), and Venice Biennale (2009) and has been included in many international group exhibitions, including the Chelsea Art Museum, New York (2008); Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (2012) and the Egyptian Academy, Rome, Italy (2014). His work is held by the British Museum, London, UK; The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, UAE; Kinda Foundation, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and the Kamel Lazaar Foundation, Tunis, as well as in many private collections.
In addition to his career as a visual artist, El Siwi has translated numerous historical art texts into Arabic, including the works of Giuseppe Ungaretti, Paul Klee, and Leonardo da Vinci.