Man On A Rocking Chair


Man On A Rocking Chair | 1972

Having in 1968 won the second prize in painting at the age of 25 at the Alexandria Biennale, Ahmed Moustafa was already a well known and established artist when in 1972 he completed his Man on a Rocking Chair. It is entirely different from his more recent compositions based upon Islamic motifs and the Arabic script for which he has achieved international renown. To anyone familiar with them, however, this work cannot but be of the greatest interest for the basic elements of Moustafa’s future creative palette are here already displayed.

The basic contrast which structures the work is that between angular and cursive lines. The angular dimension appears most notably in the cubic spatial outlines seen in the background which cannot but evoke the shape of great sacred cube in Mecca that figures in many of Moustafa’s recent compositions. The cursive element, by contrast comes to the fore in the rocking chair whose interlacing lines bring to mind the rounded and similarly interlacing features of the Arabic letter shapes that now dominate his paintings.

The man reclining on the chair is the bridge between these two contrasting worlds: the angular and the cursive, the abstract and the concrete, the physical and the spiritual. Knees, nose and collar form pointed angles, yet the back follows the well-rounded outline of the rocking chair, and the face is heart-shaped. Thus man is shown in his liminal state, combining within himself both sides of an interdependent yet antithetical divide, and perennially entrusted with the task of choice.

What we see here is a prophetic moment in the creative development of this outstanding artist.

Dr. Stefan Sperl
School of Oriental and African Studies, London

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