Ibrahim SHAHDA

Ibrahim Shahda

Ibrahim Shahda was born on October 2 1929 in Al-Azizya, Egypt. He entered the Cairo Fine-Arts Academy in 1947 where he worked under French teacher Pierre Beppi-Martin. He finished his studies in 1952 and three years later won the prize dedicated to his teacher who had died the previous year. He organized his first exhibition and at the end of the same year decided to leave for France.

Shahda arrived in Paris and applied as free student to the École des Beaux-Arts. But he felt isolated, had almost no money, so several months later he moved to the south of France, in Carpentras, at the invitation of a friend. There, he painted, started exhibiting his work (Avignon, Galerie Arlette Chabaud, 1958) and won the Festival d'Avignon Painting Prize with "La femme en noir", now part of the Calvet Museum collections. He also won the Aix-en-Provence Painting Prize the same year. A new exhibition, including works of his friend Paul Surtel, took place in Carpentras (Chapelle du Collège) in 1960.

But left unsatisfied, he chose to go back to Paris and worked there on his own from 1962 to 1964. An exhibition was organized in 1964 again in Carpentras (Musée Lapidaire). He visited Italy, went to Bretagne in 1965-1966, and then returned to Provence though he spent several summers in Bretagne.

The following years, Shahda visited Belgium, Netherlands, Spain and Italy again, and showed his work in different exhibitions in Avignon (Galerie Ducastel in 1966, 1971, 1974 and 1975), Carpentras (1967, Musée Lapidaire; 1972, Town Hall), Paris (1969, Centre Culturel d'Egypte; 1971, Galerie Lucy Krohg), Marseille (1974).

In 1975 one last exhibition took place in the Ducastel Gallery, shortly after the death of owner - and friend - Philippe Ducastel. The same year Shahda found out he was seriously ill. This caused him to work harder than ever in a great isolation. Two important exhibitions were organized in Carpentras in 1981 (Musée Duplessis and Chapelle du Collège) and 1984 (La Charité).

From 1985 to 1991, despite the cancer and its heavy treatment, he kept on painting with this feeling of emergency that only great artists have. He died August 28 1991 in Aix-en-Provence.

Posthumous exhibitions have been organized in Carpentras (1993, Chapelle du Collège), Alès (1994, Musée Municipal), Jonquières (1995, Château de Malijay), Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (1998, Galerie Doudou Bayol), Vaison-la-Romaine (1998, Ferme des Arts), Paris (1998, Centre Culturel d'Egypte), Avignon (1999, Espace Cloître Saint Louis), Malaucène (2000, Chapelle du Grozeau), Limoges (2003, Galerie Artset), Carpentras (2006, Chapelle du Collège), Paris (2009, Galerie Polad-Hardouin), Marseille (2011, Galerie Anna-Tschopp), Aix-en-Provence (2011, Galerie Ardital), Montpellier (2012, Galerie de l'Ecusson) and Ajaccio (2013, Lazaret Ollandini, Musée Marc Petit).

Paintings or pastels were also on display in group exhibitions, in Aixe-sur-Vienne (Centre Culturel Jacques Prévert) in 2001 & 2003 on the theme "Beyond the body", next to works by Francis Bacon, James Ensor & Zoran Music, in Paris in 2007 (Galerie Idées d'artistes) on the theme "The Dark side" & 2011 (Galerie Polad-Hardouin) for "Flashback", and in Auberive Abbey in 2012 for "Instinct' Art".

The Calvet Museum in Avignon owns 2 paintings by Shahda, and so does the Bibliothèque Inguimbertine/Comtadin-Duplessis Museum in Carpentras. Shahda is also present in the Auberive Abbey collections.

Ibrahim Shahda

Ibrahim Shahda

Shahda's work - mostly (oil) paintings and pastels - includes an impressive collection of portraits and especially self portraits, but many landscapes and still lifes too. His art is truly his own, and is clearly linked to other great painters.

Over the years, I have been in touch with many enthusiastic art lovers and gallery owners, who often compare Shahda to Bacon, Music or Soutine to name but a few. All, even those who had never heard of Shahda before his untimely death, are stricken by the power and both the modernity and timelessness of his work. I have also received messages from Europe and the Americas from people who knew Shahda, and among them Angelika's touching memories.

I would like to thank: Anita for her friendship and kindness, Angelika for sharing rare documents and her memories, Yves Gnaegy from Galerie Anna-Tschopp, Michael Hall from Galerie Ardital, Juliette & Jean-Pierre Rossignol from Galerie de l'Ecusson and last but not least Marc Petit, François Ollandini, Jean & Nino from the Lazaret Ollandini, Musée Marc Petit.

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Update 2019-09-04    Copyright © Michel ENKIRI