The 8th Annual Scupture Symposium for Stone in Aswan

The 8th Annual Scupture Symposium for Stone in Aswan

By The Government of Egypt with revisions by Jimmy Dunn

Stone Sculpture in Aswan

The Sculpture Symposium for Stone in Aswan, sponsored by the Culture Development Fund and supported by the Aswan Governorate, produces works of art that may be found in the Open Air Museum. The open Air Museum covers 10 feddans on a hilltop overlooking Lake Nasser and Philae Temple.

There are also already plans afoot for the establishment of a sculpture park. The land has been allotted by the governor. Awan is also to have a number of studios available to sculptors for a nominal sum. There will be a large workshop, with an overhead crane, compressed air and electricity, with a gallery attached.

It was conceived as an interface for artists, with a goal of reviving the art of sculpting in hard stone, particularly granite, which is readily available in Aswan. It should be noted that the word, "symposium", literally means a long meeting and the duration of the Aswan symposium is almost two and a half months, but the artwork remains afterwards and it is an interesting.

Local assistants, who are often artists in their own right, help the principal artists manage often simple tools to cleave huge blocks of granite (though there are also pneumatic drills which help loosen the stone). These artists must combine a feeling for aesthetics with an understanding of nature and an artisan's physical prowess. The stone is rarely transformed entirely, the artist's job is to develop as close a relationship as possible with the stone, take in its natural contours, its shape, and, rather than using it as raw material for something premeditated, work to interpret and enhance its form.

Overt its seven year history 64 sculptors from 25 countries have participated in the Aswan symposium. They have produced 86 works of art, some of which adorn public sites in Aswan and in the Alexandria Library. The symposium is not simply sculpture for its own sake but sculpture in the service of international understanding and cooperation.

In the 8th Symposium of Aswan, the granite, in spite of its hardness, has shown great flexibility to the fingertips of the artists. The theme this years seems to be "woman" and this has captured the imagination of several artists, some of whom were influenced by the philosophy of the ancient Egyptian schools of sculpture. Many others have chosen the abstract style, as it represents freedom, as in nature at large.

A Tour among the Sculptors of 2003 The German, Ganin Kortz, looks for the inner secrets of humans, especially of woman. She tries to delve into the psyche of the woman through carving a hollow inside a rock where another rock resides, as if embraced in its bosom. She also makes use of the sun rays, following the example of the ancient Egyptians where the sun rays used to penetrate into the temples to reveal their secrets.

The Canadian, Darel Beetit, gathered two stones, a man and a woman, and made them meet at one point. "No matter how far they are, they have to meet at the end... it is their destiny", says the artist. At one moment you can feel a strong warm relation between them. In fact Beetit is inspired by the king and the queen posture in Luxor Temple.

Hani Faisal created a single body for both a man and a woman through a conglomeration with two heads. Sharp lines of the man intermingled with the soft lines of the woman to express a state of Romance.

The Palestinian, Ahmed Nassar, wanted to carve a woman completely mantled except for her head. Then he dispensed with that head to liberate himself from the restrictions of the features and to add more imagination. Lines gracefully flow to focus on the vague spirit.

The Bahraini, Khaled Farhan, intended to embody the Arab woman considering her great significance in our life. But while we want something, we do something else. He expressed the female of his thoughts in a direct way far from the introvert Bahraini sculpture.

Ahmed Asqalani envisioned the creation of a new life inside the woman, so he carved an embryo. This mission needed a special handicraft to be more like a diagnostic operation, i.e. to extract the embryo from the entrails of the stones before its maturity.

The French, Partice Billin who is a veteran of the the symposium entered the mountainside to carve some steps that lead to the top of the mountain, so he gains a reason for his work to be there. He also added an aesthetic feature to the part he cut last year and refixed it with an architectural touch.

It seems a charming place that embraces the Nile, greenery and the mountain. This year, an artist making her first steps in granite sculpture has joined him. Rania Shalan added a friendly atmosphere over the place; so she extracted from the rock a man and a woman who are inseparable.

Jamber Jeekia, though he came from a distant place, Goergia, is one of the artists who is most influenced by the thoughts of the ancient Egyptian sculptor. He applies the idea of making a hole in the rock to let the sun rays pass through, and thus making a spot of light. He also formed a Pharaonic crown as a symbol for the unification of the world, north and south, inspired by King Mina; king of both lands. Thus, he represents a work that symbolizes life. Even the light and the shadow were always side by side in a way that when the sun rises on one side, the shadow appears clearly on the other.

The Polish, Andrasai Lisbeznosky philosophically carved stairs; where the meaning dominates over the shape. Stairs are the symbol of progress, a concept that dominates in several stages along our life and means reaching a better standard, whether material, spiritual or moral.

Sculpture in Stone

Hisham Abd-Allah gives his sculpturing an extra weight so it is about to fall down. He says, It is a state of tension, but I find it a live state. In spite of its hugeness, its small pedestal is held tight. Also, it is a state of security that accompanies his little daughter who fills his life with happiness at a time when he is in a dire need for a smile to ease the tension of life.

The Roman, Leonardo Rakita was busy revealing the secret of the Shadow, so he kept searching for its relation with the sun and tried to recall the shadow by making use of an oblong shape as seen in the Pharaonic shapes, such as the cartouche and Hieroglyphic letters. He fixed it in the ground as if it were a stems. This helps to clarify the motion of the shadow, while he watches for it to reach the secrets of The Vague Shadow.

Mazen Ismail continues for the second consecutive year with the human face. Last year, he carved a veiled woman. This year he prefers to carve a face bearing many expressions. Maybe this was the reason behind choosing two conglomerations forming one face and distributing the features of that face on the two conglomerations. But why two conglomerations?, Is it a Schizophrenia of the human character!

Nathan Doss chose a work that is near to Pythagoras mathematical operations, where the rays meet in a relation that needs accurate calculations.

Ehab Al-Labban refined the rock to extract a graceful human body defined by lines from its edges. The size and height form a close resemblance between the carved shape and the eyes that watch this shape, familiarly found in many Pharaonic works.

The artist depends on the exaggeration in proportions, but in this work, the exaggeration has turned into a kind of compatibility where the impossible became reasonable..

Shaban Abass carved the mayor Sheikh Al-Balad as we imagine him. Darel (a Canadian artist) says, "It is a kind of a challenge to recall a real character and embody it directly on the rock. The keys of the character may surround him, these keys are represented in the traits of Sheikh Al-Balad". It is the idea of adhering to the roots in a challenge out of fear that globalization may sweep it away from our minds, and lose its features. However, Sheikh Al-Balad reminds us of these features in order not to go far away from our origin.