Hamed Abdalla, Les Porteuses d’Eau, 1956. Gouache on Japanese paper on canvas, 126 × 253 cm. Courtesy of Mark Hachem Gallery

SELECTIONS delves into the world of acquisitions, exploring what museums and galleries have been adding to their collections in the past five years as well as featuring images and summaries of works and artists.

Bio: Egyptian, 1917–1985
Title: Les Porteuses d’Eau, 1956
Medium: Gouache on Japanese paper on canvas
Size: 126 × 253 cm
Acquired by: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Artist represented by: Mark Hachem Gallery, Beirut/Paris/
New York
Acquired from: Abdalla family
Acquisition place: New York
Acquisition date: November 2018
Exhibited in 1956 in Amsterdam and Rotterdam
Exhibited in 1957 in Copenhagen
Hamed Abdalla, Les Porteuses d’Eau, 1956. Gouache on Japanese paper on canvas, 126 × 253 cm. Courtesy of Mark Hachem Gallery
Hamed Abdalla, Les Porteuses d’Eau, 1956. Gouache on Japanese paper on canvas, 126 × 253 cm. Courtesy of Mark Hachem Gallery

One of Hamed Abdalla’s most ambitious works, this large-scale painting on Japanese paper exemplifies the type of mot-forme or écriture anthropomorphique first developed by the artist in the 1940s. The painting is both an image and an example of Arabic script or calligraphy. In this piece, Abdalla borrows the familiar image of two Egyptian peasant women stooping to fill their vessels with water from the river, already firmly established as a trope of modern academic and Orientalist painting and sculpture in Egypt. In this case, however, the form of the stooping figure on the left also constitutes the Arabiclanguage word al-mawrid (the source) or al-muwarrida (the purveyor). In this context, the term may refer to the river that has historically replenished the Nile Valley and/or the peasants who cultivate it. Abdalla’s synthesis of Arabic-language script and the figurative image represents both a political statement tied to his support of Pan-Arabism, an artistic proposition regarding the origins of modern abstraction in the historical arts of the region, and a work of modern Arab art in its own right.

Credit: Abdalla family
Courtesy of Mark Hachem Gallery
Credit line: The Metropolitan Museum
of Art, Art Jameel Fund, 2019 (2019.198)




SELECTIONS is a platform for the arts, focusing on the Arab World.

Selections editorial presents a quarterly print magazine and weekly online publication with high quality content on all subjects related to Art and Culture. Full of world-leading artworks, exquisite brand imagery, original creative illustrations and insightful written articles.
Selections Viewing Rooms presents carefully curated online art shows aiming not only to shed light on contemporary art executed by living artists, but also for viewers to buy contemporary fine art, prints & multiples, photography, street art and collectibles.
Discover the previous and current shows here.
Cultural Narratives foundation is an extensive collection that is travelling the world by leading established and emerging talents aiming to reflect the culture of the region in their works.


‘Art Here’ at the Louvre Abu Dhabi

In a continued effort to support the arts scene in the region, Louvre Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with luxury Swiss watchmaking brand Richard Mille, has unveiled the third edition of the Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here exhibition, running until February…

‘The Little Prince of Gaza’ at the Dalloul Art Foundation Beirut

The Little Prince of Gaza exhibition, organised by the Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation (DAF) in collaboration with the Palestinian Museum in the West Bank, Palestine, is a profound dedication to the innocent children of Gaza affected by the…

‘Translucent Threads of Life’ by Yousra Wahba at Firetti Contemporary

In her inaugural solo exhibition, ‘Translucent Threads of Life,’ at Firetti Contemporary, Yousra Wahba delves into the realms of nature, identity, and the enduring strength of women. Comprising four distinct sections, the exhibition unfolds a visual narrative through translucent layers,…

‘Uprising Sceneries & Works on Paper’ by Chaouki Chamoun at Mark Hachem Gallery Beirut

Chaouki Chamoun’s solo exhibition titled ‘Uprising Sceneries & Works on Paper’ at Mark Hachem Gallery, Beirut, takes place from February 22 to March 9, 2024. The show presents an exploration of colour and form through the display of 42 acrylic…

The Custodian: Artistic Visionaries: Yasmina Nysten

My personal connection with Basel Dalloul is based on a long-term family friendship. This connection was made through the artistic community within the Lebanese social scene and has deepened over the years. As an artist, this connection holds great personal…

Artistic Unity: Art in the UAE. Tabari Artspace interview with Maliha Tabari

This article appeared in The Artistic Unity Issue #67 that was dedicated to the art scene in the UAE in which we unravel the threads of unity by exploring the perspectives of various stakeholders within the UAE’s art community. Through…

february 2024

24oct(oct 24)09:0017feb(feb 17)09:00Growing Kopi, Drinking Qahwa; Stories of Coffee in Qatar and Indonesia

26oct(oct 26)09:0005mar(mar 5)09:00'MEHDI MOUTASHAR: INTROSPECTION AS RESISTANCE'

10nov09:0010mar09:00Armenia Contemplating the sacred