Magda Saad El Din
Artist and Writer
Magda Saad El Din was born on the 26th of July, 1952, in Monufia, Egypt, spending her childhood and adolescence in one of the big houses overlooking Shibin El Kom river – one of the massive streams of the grand river Nile.
In 1970, Magda joined the Faculty of Fine Arts in Alexandria, graduating with a Bachelor degree in 1975. After that, she joined the Higher Institute of Art Criticism at the Academy of Arts, where she earned a higher education diploma in 1982, a master’s degree in 1985, and finally a PhD degree in 1990. After that, she decided to travel to Paris, where she could gain an insight on the artistic and cultural life, visit the museums and exhibitions, and gain different experiences, before coming back in 1991.
During this period, she held several solo exhibitions focusing on the art of oil painting, including one in Paris, at Étienne de Caussin Gallery, in 1990, and three others in 1991, at the Arab League delegate’s office, the Near East Center, and the Egyptian Cultural Center. She also participated in a collective exhibition with a group of other Egyptian artists, held at the Egyptian Cultural Center in Paris, in the same year 1991.
During her stay in the period between 1990 and 1991, Magda attended several courses. These included a course at the school of the Louvre Museum on the art of portrait in the 20th century, a course on the Japanese art of flower arrangement “Ikebana,” and another course on the art of jewelry design, the latter two being at the ADAC Galerie Atelier, in Paris. During this period, she also travelled to Rome to visit more museums and exhibitions.
After returning back in 1991, she started studying the history of the Egyptian culture at the Faculty of Archaeology, Cairo University, where she attended another course on the Japanese art of flower arrangement. She also studied the art of leather pyrography, printing, and jewelry design, at the Faculty of Art Education in Zamalek.
In 1992, Magda started working as a Lecturer at the Higher Institute of Art Criticism, and she was later promoted to Assistant Lecturer in 1999 and then to a Full Professor in 2005. She now works as a Professor Emeritus at the institute, taking this position in 2012.
Magda has also held and contributed to several solo and collective exhibitions between Cairo and Paris, on the art of oil painting.
A prominent feature of her works is her limited choice of colors and the strength of her strokes, inspired from the art of old Egyptian painting. In her works, she always refers to images from the Egyptian nature – the palm trees and sailing boats. The pyramids are also one of her most significant inspirations, shifting between light and shade, which brought about another feature of her works: a focus on the contrast between shade and light.
Sailing boats are the tune of inspiration Magda has gained from Shibin El Kom river, where she used to live as a child. In a big house overlooking the river, she used to watch the boats moving day and night. Later on, it appeared as an essential theme in one of her books, named “The Glory and Beauty of the Sea and the Nile,” which was translated into French.
In the year 1999, Magda returned once again to Paris, this time on a scientific mission that lasted 6 months, assigned to her by the Higher Institute of Art Criticism in the Academy of Arts at the Sorbonne University. During this time, she wrote her two books “Mosques, the Empires of Monotheism” and “Religious Architecture in Europe.” She then traveled to Rome, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, and Southern Spain (Andalusia), to visit the museums and art exhibitions and to search for inspiration for her writings.
During this time, she held a duo exhibition at the Egyptian Cultural Center in Paris in the year 1999, along with a solo one at Étienne de Caussin Gallery. In 2019, she held a private exhibition at the Egyptian Cultural Center in Paris, as well as taking part in the collective exhibition Arte Firenze Premio Leonardo da Vinci in Florence, Italy.
The artist and writer has also published several critical and literary works, along with others in the field of architecture. These include “The Beam of Light,” “The Emergence of Dusk,” “The Beam of Sunset,” “Zakaria Al-Khanani: Glass and Radiance,” “Light and the Flute of Infatuation,” “Religious Architecture in Europe,” “Baffled Butterflies and Love Harbors,” “Mosques, the Empires of Monotheism,” “Mahmoud Said: between Materialism and Spirituality,” “The Glory and Beauty of the Sea and the Nile,” “Youssef Tabw Zadeh, between Shade and Light,” “Mahmoud Mokhtar and the Hissing of Stones,” “The Glory and Beauty of the Cities Deserts,” and “Nihad Bahgat and the Whisper of Objects.” She has also published some chosen pieces from The Whisper of Objects in the book “Egypt, One Hundred Years of Cinema,” published in Cairo, 1996.
Furthermore, she held several solo and collective exhibitions in Cairo and Alexandria. Solo exhibitions included the following: an exhibition at the Egyptian Public Library in 1996; several exhibitions at El Hanager Arts Center in 1998, 2004, 2006, and 2009; an exhibition at Emerald Gallery in 2006; an exhibition at Shababeek Gallery in 2012; an exhibition at Al Kotobgeya Bookstore in 2014; and an exhibition at Cairo Opera House, Salah Taher Gallery, in 2015. She also held other solo exhibitions at the Egyptian Center for International Cultural Cooperation in Cairo, including one titled “From the Nile and Pyramids” in 2017, as well as a solo exhibition at Cairo Opera House (Salah Taher Gallery) in Cairo in 2019, titled “Inspirations from the Imagination.”
Collective exhibitions, however, included the following: an exhibition for the artists of Atelier Sabah Al Khair Ya Masr at Cairo Opera House in 1998, along with several others at the Nile Cultural Channel Gallery in 2000; Ewart Hall in the American University in Cairo in 2002; Shell Social Club and another at Picasso Gallery, both in 2003; Ishraqa Gallery in Alexandria in 2004; and an exhibition for the artists of the Arts Academy in Jordan and another one which followed a workshop on the impact of the place on the artist, in Giza, Egypt, in 2007, sponsored by Mena House Oberoi Hotel and Emerald Gallery. In 2012, once again, she participated in another exhibition at Picasso Gallery, the public exhibition (34), an exhibition at the first Arab Basamat Art Fair for plastic artists, and another at El Sawy Culture Wheel. In 2014, she participated in an exhibition at Taracina Hall in Alexandria and two others at Cairo Opera House (Salah Taher Gallery) and Cairo Atelier Salon in Cairo. In 2015, she participated in two exhibitions in Cairo, one at El Hanager Arts Center and the other at the Austrian Embassy. She also participated in the international painting art symposium in 2016, sponsored by the UNESCO in Patras in Greece, Rome, and Paris, and in other collective exhibitions at Nout Art Gallery in Cairo in 2018. She also participated in a salon at Cairo Atelier in 2019, titled “Memories of the Generations,” and a collective exhibition at the Academy of Arts.
One of Magda’s most prominent contributions to art was launching the Plastic Criticism Beginners competition and Art of Architecture Beginners competition at the Association of Art Lovers in Cairo, which was created in 1922 and is considered the oldest art association in Egypt concerned with fine arts.
The artist and writer has also given several lectures inside Egypt and abroad.
In 2002, she gave a lecture on her book “Mahmoud Mokhtar and the Hissing of Stones” at the Association of Fine Art Lovers, and she participated in a cultural seminar celebrating the memory of the artist Mahmoud Mokhtar, at Cairo Opera House. In 2009, she participated in a seminar on the critic Naeem Atiya at the Supreme Council for Culture, to honor him, and in the same year she gave a lecture on modern Egyptian art at the Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo. In 2015, she gave a lecture at Aida Abdel Kerim and Zakaria Al-Khanani museum and another one at the Association of Fine Art Lovers. Later, in 2018, she gave a lecture about the artist Mohammed Nagy at his museum.
In 1999, an event was held to discuss her book “The Glory and Beauty of the Cities Deserts” at the Association of Fine Art Lovers, attended by the prominent critic and intellect Dr. Nabil Ragheb and the artist and critic Ezz Eldin Naguib. Another one was also held to discuss her book “The Beam of Light” at Al Kotobgeya Bokstore in Maadi, Cairo, in 2016, attended by Professor Dr. Shaker Abdul Hamid, the former Minister of Culture, and the artist and critic Ezz Eldin Naguib.
Moving abroad, she gave a lecture on “The Future of Islamic Miniatures,” celebrating “Algeria the Capital of the Arab Culture” in Algeria the capital, in 2007. In 2008, she gave another lecture on the art of Islamic miniatures, sponsored by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO). And in 2009, she gave another lecture on the art of Arabic calligraphy and the art of Islamic architecture, in Medea, Algeria. In 2018, she attended as guest of honor the Doma Art Festival in Lebanon.
Moreover, Magda is a Lecturer at the Faculty of Fine Arts, the Higher Institute of Ballet, and the Cairo Conservatoire at the Academy of Arts.
In 2007, she was nominated by the Higher Institute of Art Criticism for the Arab Thought Award. She was also nominated for the Arts Award of the Association of Art Lovers and the Higher Institute for Art Criticism Council, in 2008, Cairo. In 2015, she was nominated by the Council of Plastic Criticism and the Higher Institute of Art Criticism for King Faisal Award for Arabic language and literature; she was nominated again in 2019. Magda is also a member of the Syndicate of Plastic Arts in Cairo and the directory board of the Association of Fine Art Lovers, and she has participated as a member in the jury committee of the beginners exhibition at the Association of Fine Art Lovers in Cairo, from 2001 to 2011, the 6th Salon for Small Art work in Akhnaton Gallery in Cairo, 2003, Appreciation Award for faculty members of Helwan University in Cairo, 2010, the 4th round of the Artist Nahr Al Bahr competition at El Sawy Culture Wheel in 2012, the State Incentive Award for critical studies in the Supreme Council of Culture in 2013, and the Plastic Criticism beginners competition 2nd and 4th rounds, in 2014 and 2015, respectively. An award was also deployed in her name for the Plastic Criticism beginners competition, along with another for the Art of Architecture Beginners’ competition. She was also chosen as Commissary and head of the jury committee of the Art Criticism beginners competition the 6th round at the Association of Fine Art Lovers in 2017.
She was also a member of the permanent science committee for scientific assessment for professors and assistant professors, specifically in the fields of plastic art and ballet criticism.
The artist Magda has visited many countries throughout her life, some of which were solely for the sake of art, while others were cultural. She has also travelled to the Egyptian desert Sinai several times, which was her main source of inspiration while writing her book “The Glory and Beauty of the Cities Deserts,” which was published in 1998.
She has also travelled several times to Upper Egypt and Al Wahat. Her visits to Upper Egypt have inspired her through the two forces of light and shade, which is a distinctive theme in her paintings. The magical nature and serenity of Al Wahat and the palm trees spread everywhere have inspired her to write her book “Baffled Butterflies and Love Harbors,” which focuses on the idea of love.
Magda has also been studying the basics of operatic singing, and her teacher in this aspect is the baritone Dr. Ramy Kamel. She has also participated in many photography collective exhibitions. Furthermore, she participated in the International Ehden Symposium in 2012, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture in Lebanon, and was awarded many certificates of appreciation and several medals. Several of her works are currently exhibited at the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art.
Magda has also been part of several launching events held following the publishing of the book of the prominent Egyptian artist Mahmoud Said in March 2017, at Christie’s Dubai first and then the Library of Alexandria and Cairo Library, due to her contribution with an article on the artist honored by this great book. The book was published by Skira publishing house, one of the biggest publishing houses in the world for printing art books, prepared by Valérie Didier Hess (critic, historian, and researcher in art history) and Dr. Hussam Rashwan (historian and researcher in modern Egyptian art history).
Magda was also honored in 2017 at the Academy of Arts, under the supervision of director Dr. Ahlam Younes, as part of the academy’s initiative to honor its creative artists. She has also written an article for Al Rawi magazine about criticism and art journalism up to the early 1970s, and she still follows up on the international art movement, attending the Venice Biennale Art Festival in 2017 and 2018. She was honored and given the key to the new Suez canal in the year 2020, by his deputy Osama Rabea, president of the Suez canal authority.
Villa 118, Diplomatic District, El Sheikh Zayed
Daily from 10:00 AM- 6:00 PM