Artist Saif Wanli
Egypt, Culture, 2/17/2000
Saif Wanli is considered one of the most famous plastic artists in Egypt in post-World War II era. Together with his brother Adham Wanli, who lived and waged many artistic battles with him, they occupied a prominent place in painting and plastic arts.
Saif Wanli was born in the year 1910 at Alexandria. His father was Ismail Bey Mohamed Wanli.
In their childhood, the Wanli brothers' inclination to draw was met with strong opposition. So they had to draw secretly most of the time.
In 1930, Saif and Adham became the first students of an Italian artist who came to Alexandria and lived for a long time. He discovered their talents and said they would both be of certain stature in art like the Bellini brothers in Venice.
The two brothers were later joined by the painter Ahmed Fahmi and a pioneer of movie-making in Egypt, Mohamed Bayoumi. The four of them founded an atelier of their own and opened it in 1935.
They greatly admired the Barbizon school of art and found that it is necessary to depend on feelings instead of direct viewing. Their paintings combined the discoveries of the impressionists, the passion of romanticism, and the love for nature of the Barbizons.
The Wanli brothers gave up the drawing of models and went out to the streets and public life to record daily life in Alexandria, the sea, the fishermen's boats, and the beauty of streets and squares.
Saif Wanli was an employee at the Alexandria port. He and his brother continued to paint without expecting any material reward. Eventually they became very famous and their studio has become one of the landmarks of Alexandria frequented by visitors and collectors alike .
The circus was a major field of attraction for them. They closely followed its life, the hectic drills of both man and animal until they presented their best performance to the spectators. The Wanli brothers' paintings of the circus are a sincere expression of a strange and difficult life.
In 1959, the Ministry of Culture granted the Wanli brothers a scholarship for life. Their 150 paintings and 400 sketches of the Nubian monuments had a considerable effect in appealing to the world to save them, through the UNESCO, from the waters of the High Dam.
Their first exhibition was held at the Alexandria British Council branch in 1939.
In 1945, the Egyptian-French Friendship Society held an exhibition for the works of Saif and Adham Wanli together with those of Ahmed Fahmi. The exhibition was a great success. They were called by critics " the post-war generation".
The frequent visits of their studio by professors of the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo encouraged them to hold their first exhibition outside Alexandria at the Museum of Modern Arts in Cairo in 1950.
The Wanli brothers' paintings became famous world-wide. They were exhibited in Peking and then in Moscow during the World Youth Festival of 1956.
Their sketches depicting visiting troupes to the Opera House were widely admired for their decorations and their special lure .
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