The Guard, 1970s

Mohamed Riyad Saeed
The Guard, 1970s
Oil on canvas, 99 x 100 cm.
Museum of Modern Art Alexandria Collection.
Courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation.


Opening Reception:
28 April, 7:30 pm
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), Deoksugung, Seoul

When Art Becomes Liberty: The Egyptian Surrealists (1938–1965) (2016–present) travels to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), Deoksugung, Seoul, following its inaugural presentation at the Palace of Arts in Cairo (28 September–28 October 2016).

This historic exhibition explores the evolution and history of the Egyptian surrealists and their remarkable legacy, in both Egypt and international surrealist circles. The show documents a pivotal chapter of modernism from the late 1930s to the early 1960s and demonstrates the Egyptian surrealists’ contributions to internationalism, anti-fascist global protest and decolonisation movements.
The first major survey of Egyptian surrealism, When Art Becomes Liberty features over 30 artists and more than 160 works in painting, photography, drawing and sculpture. The show is organised into four sections, focusing on the Art and Liberty Group; the Contemporary Art Group; Photography and Surrealism (with a subsection on the photographer Van-Leo) and The Afterlife of Egyptian Surrealism (with a subsection on Arab surrealism). For this show, substantial loans have been secured from Egyptian public and private collections, and many works have never before been presented outside of Egypt. In addition, a robust selection of archival documents, newspaper clippings, publications and other materials has been collected for the show, providing further insight into the artistic and political concerns of the artists and writers included in the exhibition.

When Art Becomes Liberty: The Egyptian Surrealists (1938–1965) is co-organised by Sharjah Art Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture in Egypt, Sector of Fine Arts and the American University in Cairo. The exhibition is co-curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, Director, Sharjah Art Foundation; Dr Salah M. Hassan, Goldwin Smith Professor and Director, Institute for Comparative Modernities, Cornell University; Ehab Ellaban, Director, Art Centre and Dr Nagla Samir, Associate Professor of Arts, American University in Cairo.

The Seoul presentation of this exhibition is organised by National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, in collaboration with Sharjah Art Foundation, United Arab Emirates, and is curated by Joowon Park.​