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Dalloul Art Foundation

SALAH ABDEL KERIM, Egypt (1925 - 1988)


Written by Nathalie Bsat Salah Abdel Kerim was born in 1925 in Fayoum, Egypt to a family of five. In 1938 he was trained under the renowned Egyptian painter Hussein Bikar. He graduated in 1947...

Written by Nathalie Bsat

Salah Abdel Kerim was born in 1925 in Fayoum, Egypt to a family of five. In 1938 he was trained under the renowned Egyptian painter Hussein Bikar. He graduated in 1947 with honors in ornamentation from the faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo. In 1948 he worked as an assistant to the interior decoration section at his University, then he received a grant to pursue his education in Europe and moved to France in 1952 to study Theatre Décor and Advertisement. In 1956, he studied Cinema Décor and obtained a Ph.D. from the “Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia” in 1957. A year later, he returned to Egypt to teach at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo, he was appointed its Dean in 1982.

His daily routine consisted of feeding his many cat friends who always greeted him as soon as he set foot on campus. His favorite cat was called Qaysar.

Abdel Kerim had a special connection with animals since his childhood. It is said that he enjoyed collecting insects, birds and butterflies as a child. Through his art, Abdel Kerim wanted to strengthen the relationship between humans and animals. His fondness for them is reflective in his many representations of animals, especially in his sculptures. The artist makes them full of wonder, appealing, approachable, easy to connect with.

For his sculptures, the artist used mostly wood and metal, but he is most known for his scrap metal sculptures. In fact, in the Arab art world, he was given the nickname “The Scrap Artist”. He was fascinated with metal because of the common misconception that it is hard, unworkable, and permanent. However, light and air breaking down metal is for him a reminder that the work is perishable and decaying. His first sculpture, in 1959, was exhibited in Sao Paolo Biennale, Brazil where it won the National Sculpting Award.

There was never any pre-conceptual design or preparation work for his sculptures. Abdel Kerim always started out randomly, inspired by the material itself. He didn’t want to call his work neither abstract nor figurative, he preferred the term “expressive” where each work expressed its own shape. He built up his works from the center of the piece to its final form interacting with light and air. He called it: “sculpting from emptiness”.

Salah Abdel Kerim was a perfectionist who strived to be fluent in several artistic languages: ceramics, oil paintings, murals, posters for cinema and theater, costuming for theater, mosaics, sketches, portraits, landscapes, miniatures. He also designed many interiors of buildings in Cairo.

His creatures are almost Burtonesque and whimsical yet this does not diminish their relatability and attractiveness.

The artist passed away in 1988.


Matouli, Ati. "حان الوقت لنتذكر .. صلاح عبد الكريم ." مجلة البيت. Accessed September 08, 2017.من-أرشيف-البيت/تراث/حان-الوقت-لنتذكر--صلاح-عبد-الكريم.aspx.

" Abdel Kerim, Salah, Mr. the bu ||| sculpture ||." Sotheby's|Now 20th Century Art / Middle East. Accessed September 11, 2017.

"Salah Abdel Kerim (1925-1987)." SafarKhan. Accessed September 11, 2017.

YouTube. December 11, 2013. Accessed September 11, 2017.

"Bonhams." Bonhams : Salah Abdel Kerim (Egypt, 1925-1988) Clara. Accessed September 11, 2017.


Selected Solo Exhibitions


Retrospective, Safarkhan Art Gallery, Cairo, Egypt


Retrospective, Safarkhan Art Gallery, Cairo, Egypt


Exhibition in Remembrance by Dr. Aleya Abdel Hadi, Faculty of Fine Arts, Cairo, Egypt


Retrospective, Centre Culturel Français du Caire, Egypt


Exhibition by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture and National Orientation, Bab el Louq Gallery, Cairo, Egypt

Selected Group Exhibitions


A Date With Pioneers, Safarkhan Art Gallery, Cairo, Egypt


The Short Century, Sharjah Museum, Sharjah, UAE


Salon Cairo, Palace of Arts, Cairo, Egypt


Faces of Contemporary Egyptian Art, Musee Galliera, Paris, France


Sao Paolo Biennale, Sao Paolo, Brazil


Sao Paolo Biennale, Sao Paolo, Brazil


Alexandria Biennale, Alexandria, Egypt
Sao Paolo Biennale, Sao Paolo, Brazil



State Appreciation Prize for the Arts, Cairo, Egypt


Medal of Distinction, Cairo, Egypt


National Decorative Award for Sculpture, Egypt


Honorary merit from the 7th Biennale of San Paolo, Sao Paolo, Brazil


7th Biennial of Sao Paulo, Sao Paolo, Brazil


Guggenheim National Section Award for Egypt, New York, US


First Prize for Sculpture at Biennale of Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt
Mencao Honorosa, 5th biennale of Sao Paolo, Sao Paolo, Brazil


International San Vito Romano Prize in Painting, Italy


Ismail State Prize, Egypt


National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi, India
Egyptian Museum of Modern Art, Cairo, Egypt
Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Lebanon
Barjeel Art Foundation, UAE

Egyptian Modern Art
Salwa Mikdadi, English, 2004


Poster of Salah Abdel Karim 16th January Safarkhan Gallery
Salah Abdel Kerim (1925-1988)
Safarkhan Art Gallery
Safarkhan/ DAF Library, English, Arabic


صلاح عبد الكريم ومحمد إسماعيل.. ذاكرة تشكيلية للخمسينيات
سناء أمين, Arabic, 2019
صلاح عبد الكريم.. الفنان التشكيلي المتفرد
د. محمد الجوادي, Arabic, 2018
مئة عام من تاريخ الحركة التشكيلية المصرية . تجريدية خاصة تحتفل بالانسان والحياة ونحت مسكون بالهاجس الفرعونية
Arabic, 1996
صلاح عبدالكريم فنان الحديد الخردة, Arabic, 2013
صلاح عبدالكريم.. من نجوم الفن المصري في القرن العشرين, Arabic, 2012
Salah Abdel Kerim
صلاح بصير
Arabic, 2001
تكريم صلاح عبد الكريم في اول سمبوزيوم لنحت الخردة
نجوي العشري, Arabic, 2013
«محبى الفنون الجميلة» تحتفى بالفنان «قاهر الحديد»
سوزى شكرى, Arabic, 2016
Egyptian artist Salah Abdel-Karim remembered with retrospective
Névine Lameï, English, 2015
معرض للفنان صلاح عبد الكريم في جاليري سفر خان
menna, Arabic, 2016
من خلال معارض استعادية لحامد ندا وصلاح عبدالكريم: السيريالية الشعبية والروح القومية في الفن التشكيلي المصري
محمد عبد الرحيم, Arabic, 2015
حان الوقت لنتذكر .. صلاح عبد الكريم
آﺗﻲ ﻣﺘﻮﻟﻲ, Arabic
Salah Abdel Kerim in Cairo, Wael Shawky in New York
Christoph Scholz, English, 2015
جاليرى سفر خانة يستضيف معرض الفنان الراحل صلاح عبد الكريم.. زينب السجينى: القدوة الدائمة.. وأشرف رضا: كان رائدا فى نحت الحديد "الخردة" وابنه: كان لوالدى بصمة خاصة
نبيلة مجدى, Arabic, 2015