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These are excerpts of press reviews on Islam Zaher's art work.

Islam Zaher…

Eccentricity -- Existence’s Blaring Question


In this show, Islam Zaher propels us into “narratives” that he forms with the tension of smudges, vivid colors, and overlapping lines. The brush smudges appear sharp, harsh, and kinetic as much as the “subject” (portrait or figure) is formed in a layered manner, the features are equally shown and hidden. Thus, our eyes search for meaning without fully grabbing it, because it forms and changes the details of the “story” into melodious tones that draw the eye and bring it into a state of trance. It is a state of infection that spreads from the painting directly to the eye, as if it were an unlimited stream of liquid fragments, flowing with a roaring murmur. Islam builds his world by deconstructing the visual, fragmenting it, and then rebuilding it. He does not distort it in the manner of Bacon or Expressionism, but rather investigates its paradoxes and forms a density for it that pushes it to the verge of obliteration, that is, an almost gelatinous mass, without appearing so. As he pushes his new expressionism to its extreme limits and elicits from Cézanne and Fauvism their areas of color and division of space, we see him inventing for himself a new, personal plastic rhythm that is characterized by tension, intensity, and rigor to the point of obsession.

Farid Zahi

Rabat, 5 October 2023

Shadow of Absence: Islam Zaher


Many contemporary artists are inspired by cultural heritage, drawing on ancient motifs and symbols to create fresh and original work. Never resorting to dull academic discourse, Zaher's use of art history is thoughtful and enlightening. His appropriation of art history gives his work depth and purpose, allowing viewers to comprehend the layers of symbolism and references. Zaher carefully considers various artistic traditions and reinterprets them using his own techniques resulting in a rich visual experience that invites contemplation and introspection.

Gillian McIver, 2023

Art travelling: Passive Constructions, Gallery Misr, Cairo


Islam Zaher is a painter whose work strongly references sculpture. The paintings in the show Passive Constructions are not pictures ‘of’ sculptures, but they reference sculptural forms and the materiality of objects in space. This is manifested not only in the imagery and the evocative titles of the pictures, but also in the thick impasto techniques he employs with palette-knife and brush.

Zaher’s use of the word ‘passive’ in the show’s title and in the naming of many of the pieces is tantalizing. The pictures are anything but passive: they are chunky, solid forceful structures of paint and canvas or paper, depicting large and inescapably solid things. Inert they may be, such as the white Chair in the dimly-lit sepulchral space of A chair in a passive concrete space (2019), but each seems to contain with it a sense of imminence. Nothing is happening; something has happened; something is about to happen. Tension and stillness suffuse each picture, a strange yet deeply satisfying experience for the viewer.

The Art Traveller,

Instagram @the_art_traveller, 2020


Passive Constructions: Islam Zaher’s New Exhibition


The pieces on show honestly and fiercely reflect the struggle between life and death, perfection and incompleteness. They tackle alienation and the meaning of human existence. It took the artist two years to complete the collection, which includes complete studies of objects as well as paintings. Using a dark palette and strong brushstrokes, the paintings look like designs for live scenes of a demolished city. In an expressionist style, it makes up a tour of a virtual city in the aftermath of destruction. Is it the end of the world, the termination of life, or more symbolically the defeat of good in favour of evil?

Rania Khallaf

Al-Ahram Online, March 2020

Against the Tyranny of Asethetic Fashions:

Remnants of Enchantment at Gypsum Gallery


Superficially expressionistic in style, Zaher’s semi-abstract paintings of objects such as furniture are fundamentally experiments in texture and color, creating a series of canvases teeming with tactile and visual surprises: the paint’s materiality, thickly layered, gives a sense of volumetric distinction to these objects as well as tonal complexities that reveal themselves the more you look at them.

Ismail Fayed, on Remnants of Enchantment

Mada Masr, April 2017

In Islam Zaher's Quadriptych:

Philosophic and Artistic Nature of "Homage to Kafka"


Inside Islam's four paintings, there is an enigmatic space akin to dormant pain despite the radiant colors, bearing many allusions to Kafka's dogs. Before these paintings, the viewer will see a translation of Kafka's words in Islam Zaher's visuals. This experience is a rare mating between two different ways of expression, one is physically absent but present by projection within the four corners of Zaher's four existential viewpoints.

Fatma Ali, on Islam Zaher's "Investigations of

a Dog" Quadriptych

Al-Qahirah Newspaper, August 2016

Inside Islam Zaher's Pink & Lamentation


"Pink and Lamentation" is a unique and intriguing experience presented to us at Gallery Misr in Zamalek by the most exceptional artist Islam Zaher.

Withdrawn into their pink caves, Islam's figures summon the image of Plato's Allegory of the Cave. They are completely isolated from the outside world, perceiving it exclusively through reflections on their inner walls.

Fatma Ali
Al-Qahirah Newspaper, August 2015

Egypt's Dual Nature Revealed in Painting


“Intuited Happiness,” the latest exhibition by artist Islam Zaher, attempts to highlight the vivid contrast that exists in the Egyptian society between what can be revealed and what must remain hidden.

Zaher depicts the schizophrenia that prevails in Egyptian society through a mixture of large paintings filled with bright colors and minimalistic drawings in various shades of brown.

“Through this work I intended to express the contradiction between inner and outer, between sexuality that has to be kept hidden and what you can show to the world,” says Zaher. The contrast is as striking as it is disturbing.

Louise Sarant
Egypt Independent, May 2010

Screamin in quietness, oil on canvas, by Islam Zaher, 1998

90'S Generation at Crossroad


"In his works the artist ISLAM ZAHER sets out from the same base represented by the traditional realistic approach to the figure, in its endless expressionistic abilities but with modern characteristics …"

D.Sabri mansour
El Helal magazine,1999

Out of Vaccum


"In his lines there's something that indicates to a unique talent and a singular vision for life and objects, and in his dark colors you'll find steadiness and spontaneity that altogether points to how deep his experiment is, its singularity and its ability to continuity."

Yasser Soltan
El Arabie El Thaqafie, 2005

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