El-Touni : A Design Retrospective

Design Works and illustrations by Helmi el-Touni

19 oct 2014
13 nov 2014
  • Sharjah Art Gallery
  • AUC Center for the Arts, The American University in Cairo, 11835 New Cairo

The Graphic Design major, part of the Visual Cultures program housed at the Department of the Arts at the American University in Cairo will be hosting the large-scale exhibition “El-Touni: A Design Retrospective” by the renowned Egyptian artist and designer Helmi el-Touni.

Opening on October 19th, 2014 at the Sharjah Art Gallery on AUC’s new campus, the show will feature original illustrations, book and corporate identity design, posters, sketches and cartoons by one of the veterans of Arab graphic design.

The exhibition is conceived as the first in a series of projects that trace the development of design in the Arab world and which aim to contribute to the thriving debate on the theory and practice of graphic design in the region.

Touni-Diamond,medium_large.1413120938 - Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès

Since the 1950s el-Touni has created an immense and multifaceted body of work. Besides being a prolific painter he has illustrated thousands of book covers, hundreds of magazine illustrations and children’s books, political posters and a handful of the most iconic logos in the history of Arab graphic design. His practice earned him many local and international awards and has had a lasting influence on many generations in the Arab world.

In el-Touni’s design works we encounter a rich and evocative image world that is deeply rooted in local visual traditions while at the same time addressing pressing social issues of his time. With his expressive and metaphorical iconography and a distinct color palette, el-Touni comments on political narratives, examines notions of identity, and narrates captivating and playful visual stories.

El-Touni has collaborated with numerous publishing houses and periodicals in Egypt before moving to Beirut in the 1960s where he lived for fourteen years. Here he created some of his most iconic logos, political posters and children’s books. He moved back to Cairo in the mid-1980s and was commissioned by Dar al-Shorouk to develop work ranging from children’s books to book covers to magazine op-eds. Throughout these years he collaborated with newspapers, magazines and publishers from Kuwait to Sudan and became one of the most influential designers and artists of the Arab world.

The collection on display will have original design artworks and sketches from the artist himself and from the collection of Dar al-Shorouk, documenting more than thirty years of award-winning work. A film on el-Touni, part of the documentary “Dark Room Radiant Life” by Arab Loutfi will be shown on the second floor of the gallery.

Events planned will include the launch of the book “Hilmi el-Tuni, Evoking Popular Arab Culture” written by Yasmine Taan and published by Khatt Books in Amsterdam (www.khattbooks.com) that has been for two years in production and that will be the first well-developed documentation of the artist’s life and work both as an artists and a designer, coupled by a public talk by Helmi el-Touni. Both events are scheduled to take place on the 9th of November on AUC’s new campus.

Prior to the main show’s opening, books designed by Helmi el-Touni and published by Dar al-Shorouk will be exhibited in the foyer of AUC’s main library from the 12th till the 18th of October 2014.

Opening Hours of “El-Touni: A Design Retrospective”: Daily from 9am-4pm, except Fridays