The Idea of the Symposium

In the middle of the year 1988, the National Centre for Fine Arts carried out a number of studies that introduced new forms of artistic activities to be held locally and internationally.  Among these activities was the sculpture symposium.  I forwarded an agenda to Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni about holding an International Quadrennial for sculpture in Aswan.  The idea received great support on all levels.  I asserted in the agenda that opening the door in front of Egyptian and international artists to practice direct sculpture on granite will pave the way for further improvement in the art of sculpture in EgyptAswan has been chosen for its architectural and touristic value as it comprises time-honored monuments and statues and is surrounded by mountains of granite from which ancient Egyptians extracted solid rocks to bear witness for their incomparable creativity.  On January 17, 1990 the Governor of Aswan was contacted regarding this issue.  On May 12,1990, his Excellency showed great enthusiasm about the project and asked for the necessary recommendations and measures to kick-start the symposium. A preliminary committee was formed on April 10,1990 to put the general detailed plan of the project by Dr. Ahmad Nawwar, Samir Gharib the minister art counselor, Adam Hunein the famous sculptor, artist Yosri Hasan,  not to mention the report of the British Sculptor Steven Cooks who loved Egypt and was assigned by the British government to make a huge statue to be presented as a gift to the new Opera House.  In August 1990, an agenda was presented to the Minister of Culture comprising the following propositions:

  • Inviting Jiane Carnedente, director of the thenVenice International Bienniale to benefit from his experience.
  • Inviting major sculptors from all over the world.
  • The participation of painters to introduce ideas that can be executed as sculptures.
  • Inviting a group of sculptors from Carrara the Italian city who are experts in granite sculpture and some of the Indian sculptors who toe the line of Pharaos in sculpture.
  • Suggesting ideas that can be major topics such as:
  • Contemporary approaches in sculpture
  • Different old methods
  • Major figures in this field.

Minsiter Farouq Hosni approved all previous recommendations and assigned the following committee that I headed to put the detailed vision of organizing that international festival in Aswan. The consulting committee presented the idea in a detailed agenda that asserted that Egypt takes precedence among world countries in the Art of sculpture as ancient Egyptian sculpture especially in Aswan used solid red granite that still survives among us today.

A fixed date was assigned for the symposium to be held annually in winter in a place close to citizens and tourists.  Basma Hotel has been chosen to host the Egyptian and foreign sculptors and its garden which lies on a plateau over the Nile and close to granite quarries has been selected as the working site.  The committee suggested putting a scientific plan for the aesthetic effects of the distribution of the executed works.  It has been suggested that a group of young sculptors accompany the international artists to allow direct interaction and further development of the former talents.  

Concerning the subject and the way of expression it has been left entirely to the artist.  Coordination with audiovisual mass media to cover the entire event has been also planned in addition to assigning the National Cinema Council to produce a documentary film about the event each year.  A ceremony is organized at the end of the symposium to distribute certificates and golden symbols.  The ceremony is attended by the Minister of Culture, the Governor of Aswan, the ambassadors of participating countries, public figures in all fields, and Egyptian and foreign media men, critics and sculptors.

After completing the necessary studies and means of coordination with Aswan governorate that guaranteed the success of the event, the Minister of Culture approved the formation of the supreme committee supervising the implementation of the session.  The committee has been headed by Sculptor Adam Hunein as the supervisor, artist Farouq Ibrahim as  the chairman.  Artists Mahmoud Shokri, Gaber Hijazi, Sabri Nashed, Abdel Maguid Al-Fiqi, Yosri Hassan, Tariq al-Komi have been members of the committee.

Finally, the dream has come true and know we bear fruit of the first experience in Egypt by evading past shortcomings and looking forward for further success in the future sessions.