A prolific artist, poet and critic, Ahmed Morsi has produced a diverse and extensive body of work from the 1940s until today. Although he has resided in New York since 1974, Morsi’s practice and modus operandi, continually connected to his friendships and collaborations with peers in the Arab world, manifest a lifelong love for his hometown of Alexandria. He is considered a foundational member of the ‘Alexandria School’, a term coined by renowned Egyptian novelist and critic Edwar al-Kharrat that defines the generation of free thinkers in 1940s Alexandria who came of age in the multi-ethnic, culturally diverse port city.
Both figurative and fantastical, Morsi’s paintings reflect his interest in surrealism and draw from his multidisciplinary practice, particularly in the literary sphere. As prominent Egyptian art critic Samir Gharib has stated, ‘Ahmed Morsi paints his poetry and writes his paintings.’ With recurring motifs suspended within non-specific, dreamlike contexts—from human and animal figures to mannequins, musical instruments and clocks—Morsi’s visual vocabulary is strongly symbolic. He creates non-linear, painterly schemas that remain fluid and open to interpretation.
In this untitled work from 1972, a rearing horse with an intense gaze and wind-blown mane appears alongside anonymous and abstract human figures—some complete, others truncated above the chest—against a dark and dramatic sky. Within the obscure context of a bare and scorched landscape, where time and viewpoint are now null, these sculptural figures appear to vigorously overlap in a scene of discord, dislocation and turmoil. A sense of urgency prevails, as something larger has happened—or looms ahead.