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The artist's sizable output, recently reintroduced to the public thanks to simultaneous exhibitions in Cairo and Beirut, has received a second boost courtesy of a monograph by Roula El Zein. The book, which includes contributions from the artist's friends and family and extracts from his own essays, provides a comprehensive overview not only of his biographical information but of his views on art in general, and his own work in particular.As the monograph reveals, Egypt was always at the center of Abdalla's work, even after the artist left the country in 1956, disillusioned with Gamal Abdel Nasser's post-revolution regime.In parallel, the text provides the background needed to contextualize Abdalla's increasingly politically-infused work.Initially influenced by the works of El Greco, Abdalla began to develop his own style.He classifies the aim of Eastern painters as "to paint nature as seen by the eye of the mind" while Western artists aimed "to paint nature as it looked to the naked eye". From the mid-19th century, he argues, Western artists, among them Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee, began to look to the "flat painting" of Eastern artists for inspiration.
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