Omar El Nagdi

Artist, philosopher, and musician Omar El Nagdi is renowned for a series of works based on singular forms of calligraphy. Initiated in the 1960s and 1970s, El Nagdi’s practice creates rhythmic abstractions based on the repetition of the Arabic numeral for ‘one’ (wahed), which shares its form with the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, alef. With minimal form, El Nagdi builds a pulsating and multi-dimensional composition that symbolises the indivisible nature of the divine.

Born in Egypt in 1931, El Nagdi graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in 1953 (now part of Helwan University in Cairo) and continued his training in Russia and Italy, graduating from the Academy of Venice in 1965. He held his first exhibition in Cairo in 1950. An active member of Cairo’s art community, El Nagdi was a member of the Liberal Artist’s group headed by Taha Hussein, and formed the Egyptian Mosaics Group in 1964. He received awards at three Alexandria biennials in 1966, 1968, and 1974.

A multi-disciplinary artist, El Nagdi works in oil painting, watercolour, sculpture, etching, and mosaic. Over the course of his career, El Nagdi has refused to commit to one particular artistic style and identifies his inspiration as the diverse cultures of rural Egypt and Cairo’s popular urban district of Bab Al She’reya. His work is held in private collections and museums throughout the world. Omar El Nagdi lives and works in Cairo.