“Ahmed Morsi in New York: Elegy of the Sea” brings together a number of paintings from 1983 to 2012 that the artist made in New York, where he continues to live. Morsi came of age in the 1940s and was part of the Alexandria School, a key cultural movement that placed the Egyptian city on the map as an emerging Mediterranean metropole in the postwar period. When Morsi arrived in New York in 1974, his paintings transformed, taking on a lyrical blue and solemn landscape that evoked his seaside homeland, the port city of Alexandria.
In this distinctive body of work, Morsi creates surreal, fantastical landscapes populated by recurring figures, real and imagined: fish out of water, androgynous subjects, mythological horses, human-size clocks, and images within images. This Surrealist vocabulary emerges from Morsi’s experience of dislocation, memories of the city and sea in Alexandria, and the simultaneous experience of crowdedness and solitude living in diaspora.