Fatima Naoot

Writer, Critic, Freelance Journalist, Poet and Translator - Egypt


By: Fatima Naoot

The article translate to English by: Youssef Mohammed

Probably, we have not witnessed a plastic exhibition, which preparation took as long time as eighteen years. Two years were spent in preparing the pallets of colors, arranging them in endless number of small boxes, and preparation of drawing tools. These tools do not look like the tools known since the medieval era, or even known for the modern schools of art through dozens of schools, sects, tendencies and art movements. Then, another sixteen years were spent in “drawing” those amazing paintings, or rather in inlaying color particles on large wall paintings, the smallest side of which is not less than two meters long. It is for the sake of making live models that simulate the world famous paintings, which we already knew and adored.

Cairo witnessed yesterday, Monday, May 11, 2010, the opening of this unique exhibition, which attracted the attention of huge number of audience of intellectuals, journalists and those who are interested in the plastic art, as well as critics and artists from Egypt and the world at their different  schools of art,  like painters, mosaic artists, sculptors…etc.

His brush is "an accurate forceps”, the pack of his colors is not but tiny pieces, ranging from half millimeter and three millimeters of glass, with varying levels ranging from transparency to darkness, and micro mosaic pieces of endless color degrees. It is a difficult art, which requires a lot of patience as well as fingers of a skillful surgeon and sharp eyesight.

Even if a microscope is used, this art requires a fine artistic sense in the first place, as well as a deep knowledge of the secrets of color, light and shadow. The reader may not be surprised of the eighteen years that preceded the exhibition if he knew that the artist spends hours or perhaps days in the treatment of a small area of no more than a square centimeter.

The Egyptian artist Saad Romany Michael spent much of his life span in learning this difficult art, and in preparing for this exhibition, which attracted a number of audiences we are not used to see in the plastic art exhibitions in our Arab societies. Makram Hunain, the famous Plastic artist and critic, said in a hint about him " Dear Visitor, do not be surprised if you know that experts from all over the world came here to see this spectacular exhibition, in which the pieces of colored glass are transformed into pieces of diamond, over a period of eighteen years of courageous challenge in a quest for activating the micro pieces, in order to provide us with millions of color degrees." Hunain also spoke about the artist’s benefit from his old job as a jewelry maker, which enabled him to deal with micro-mosaic in the same precision of dealing with pieces of diamonds and precious stones. The West called this art as "Micro Mosaic" and he the Arabs called it "The art of mosaic”.

If it is difficult to speak about the bespoken, as Ibn Araby said, the drawing on the drawing is more difficult, especially if the original drawing is a famous world piece of art, with which we formed long history of affection and admiration. At that time, our judgment on the works that simulate the original work tends to the roughness and denunciation at first; until it is proved to us that the new work is also authentic in its simulation.

In the “Starry Night” painting, made by van Gogh in 1888, through which he expressed his dire need for religion, he incarnated a scene of the dark sky at night from the window of his room in the clinic. The sky is full of swirls and the clouds cover the space of St. Remy village. The dark shade of a tree catching the horizon is presented in the foreground of the painting, while the church occupies the center background of the painting. The painting is now considered one of the most important achievements of this unhappy Dutch artist, to the extent that it was inspired in songs like the song of the British singer Don McLean, which carry the same name and talks about the grief of Vincent van Gogh and his existential suffering.

When you see that painting in the exhibition of Saad Mikhail, you will need to extend your finger surreptitiously to touch the fragile clouds before you announce that the texture alone differentiate between the original of van Gogh painting and the Egyptian painting made of mosaic particles.

The same thing applies to the "Wheat Field" painting, made by Van Gogh in 1890. In the painting of "The Girl with Pearl Earring", the Dutch John Vermeer, who made the pearl grain as the hero of the painting and the centre for its focus, you will gaze at the mosaic painting to make sure whether there was a wild pearl grain thrown by an oyster in the deep water of the Indian Ocean. The same also applies to the “Young Woman on the Terrace” painting for the French artist Glom Senac.

You will gaze for a long time in the transparency degree of the scarf of the Madame, which is spun of glass beads and mosaic, on which surface the light breaks up to give a combination of transparency, light and shadows.

 The same thing applies to the painting of "Madame Rimsky-Korsakov" in the "Aida" painting, which is inspired from the famous Verdi Opera. The radioactive yellow gold in the necklace flashes at the neck of Aida, in a coloring contrast with the black heart, the Madame hangs at her left breast. The balcony scene from "Romeo and Juliet" painting inspired from the painting of Sir Thomas Francis Dixie, where Juliet lays in her white loose gown and her brown hair, and Romeo is trying to jump from the fence of her balcony to hug here before the destiny draws the legendary scene of their separation. The whiteness of the gown and the green color of the foliage hanging on the fence of the balcony come to the side of the orange scarf of Romeo as well as the bright-colored curtains, where each of these elements snoop the couple in their noble embrace, while the hero of the painting and the scene maker is the pieces of stones and the tiny colored mosaic. In a painting from the Roman School of Art "Neptune Drives the Cart", we are struck by the colors of the blue angry sea waves made of transparent glass particles in its blue degrees graduating from the white to the darkest blue, and in contrast with the color of the sky at sunset, with its twilight orange and red color degrees. In the “White Arabian” painting, although the body of the Arab horse is completely in white, you'll find endless degrees of the white color between the light and darkness.

In the painting of "The Spirit of Music" that belongs to the future school and tries to draw the fourth dimension “time”, through capturing the moment of motion, Saad Roman succeeded in creating the effect of the dancers’ movement through rotation arcs and circumvention swirls, to a degree that the two dancers are almost to leave the painting on the wall and complete their dance at the ground of the plastic art hall in the Egyptian Opera House, in which the exhibition is held until 20 May, 2010.


In addition, there are many personal portraits of world celebrities. These portraits show features that are more accurate than the features of photographic pictures and prove a full control of a subject that is naturally difficult to control. We can see Jesus, Tchaikovsky, Einstein, Beethoven, Omar El-Sharif, Queen Elizabeth, Fairuz, Oprah Winfrey, Naguib Mahfouz and Robert De Niro…etc, in addition to historical folklore characters, such as Samson and Dilelia, Safia in her Chiffon Dress, Pomegranate Saleswoman, Flora, Fens, Cleopatra, Cupid and the Fisherman, as well as many metaphysical, cubist, futurist and raster works.

Published in Al-Hayat newspaper, London (In Arabic)

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