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Abdel-Moati, Mustafa

Mustafa Abdel-Moati (also Mustafa Abd al-Mu'ti, Mostafa Abdel Moity) is an Egyptian artist who identifies himself as a contemporary artist who neither follows in foreign footsteps nor replicates past achievements in Egyptian art. Abdel-Moati has had more than thirty shows in Egypt, Italy, and Spain, and participated in approximately twenty-five international group exhibitions. Abdel-Moati is one of the founders of the Experimental Group, established in 1958.


Mustafa Abdel-Moati was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1938. After completing his study at the Faculty of Fine Arts in 1962, he started a teaching career at the same faculty while at the same time using government grants to live in and study the Upper Egypt and Delta regions of the country. At this time, Abdel-Moati began to develop his interpretation of ibda'a, the process of being creative, a concept that his artistic generation championed. He argues that there is a difference between art and ibda'a, (literally creation) because the ability to draw and creating art are two different skills.

Abdel-Moati received his master's degree in 1972. His master thesis was "The Crisis of Contemporary Man and its Multifolded Aspects." Two years later he was nominated Professor of Art from San Fernando Academy of Madrid University, while exhibiting and taking part in a governmental expedition to Spain. He later earned degrees in restoration and mural painting in Spain.

Abdel-Moati served as a vice minister of culture in Egypt from 1980 to 1988. He became a member of the National Specialized Congress in Cairo in 1983. In 1985 Abdel-Moati became a member of the World Congress of Contemporary Art in Venice. That same year he was elected vice president of this prestigious institution. Later in 1988, he became the head of the Egyptian Academy in Rome. He also was a director of the National Center Of Figurative Arts from 1980 until 1988.


  • Name: Mustafa Abdel-Moati; also Mostafa Abdel-Moity, Mustafa Abd al-Moati
  • Birth: 1938, Alexandria, Egypt
  • Nationality: Egyptian
  • Education: Egypt, degree from Academy of Fine Arts, Alexandria; Granted professor of art, equal to doctorate degree, from San Fernando Academy of Art, Spain.


  • 1962: Professor at Faculty of Fine Arts, Alexandria University
  • 1980–1988: Vice-Minister of Culture in Egypt
  • 1988–present: Director of Academia d'Egitto in Rome


A key to understanding Abdel-Moati's contribution to art is in the meaning of ibda'a—which requires artists to produce work that is entirely new, unfettered by previous traditions or preconceptions. Importantly, however, Abdel-Moati does not completely forgo past achievements; he only opposes the rote replication of them. He produces art within a framework that contains elements of the past but provides a new meaning to them. He contends that the entire heritage inherited from ancient Egyptian, Coptic, and Islamic civilizations is a result of causal factors. That is why artists should look at the causes that produced the art rather than copy the effect. These causal influences inform Abdel-Moati's paintings in a modern and abstract way. He adds to the framework of heritage his own sense of the times and his individual style. As he explains, the result is continuation and not a repetition of heritage. Heritage is just a starting point of a dynamic and ever-moving process. The horizon of ibda'a, however, is unclear and unseen. Abdel-Moati has contributed significantly to the art of Egypt and internationally

Abdel-Moati also has achieved much as a Director of the National Center of Figurative Arts. He organized the Gallery of Nile (1984), the biggest hall for art exhibitions in Egypt; Cairo International Biennale (1984); and the Mahmud Sa'id Center in Alexandria, the greatest cultural center in Egypt.

Abdel-Moati organized the great majority of the artistic examinations as a president for the Artistic Patrimony of Egypt from 1980 to 1988, creating the medal for the Biennale exhibition and prepared prizes awarded to artists in various fields including sculpture, photography, publicity, and drawing.


Abdel-Moati is universally respected for his artistic talents. He is particularly famous in Egypt, Italy, and Spain because of his many exhibitions in these countries. He has had more than twenty exhibitions in Italy—including Gallery Studio-S, Rome (1990), Gallery II Traghetto, Venice (1991), Gallery Nobart of Madrid (1974), and the Gallery Iho of Caceres (1976)—more than seven exhibitions in Spain including Thebes Gallery of Madrid (painting and drawing, 1974), Maurro Gallery of Santander (painting, 1974), and Gallery Faunis of Madrid (painting and drawing, 1977). He also presented more than thirteen exhibitions in Egypt, including Gallery in the Building of Culture at Kafr el Shaikh (1968), Gallery of Exposition of the Russian Cultural Center in Alexandria (1974), Gallery of the Fine Arts Museum, Alexandria, (1969), and he also has had more than twelve international exhibitions. Abdel-Moati's work can also be seen in several noted museums, including the museum of the Arab Institute in Paris, Museum of Islamic Modern Art in Amman, Museum of Modern Art in Cairo, museum of the Opera House in Cairo, and Museum of the National Congress in Cairo.


Although his art is well known in Egypt and abroad, it still is too early to assess Abdel-Moati's ultimate legacy. Doubtless he will be remembered in Egypt as a painter who has combined national and international motifs into one abstract meaning by using geometrical shapes and unique colors. As an artist who simultaneously honors and refuses to repeat the past, Abdel-Moati and his work will doubtlessly continue to be studied by future generations of painters.


Karnouk, Liliane. The Emergence of a National Style. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 1988.

"A Mélange of Artistic Masterpieces," Daily Star Egypt. 6 May 2007. Available from

Naguib, Ezz El-Din. The Dawn of Egyptian Modern Painting. Cairo Foreign Cultural Information Department, 1992.

"Of Drawing and the Deity," Al-Ahram Week Online. 20-26 January 2005, Issue No. 726. Available from

                                        Adil M. Asgarov


Born in Egypt in 1923, Abdel Rahman El-Nachar received his Ph.D. in art from the Budapest Art Academy in 1978. Combining expressionism and surrealism, he depicted topics adhering to the reality of everyday life. Before his death in 1999, El-Nachar created works related to Islamic Art. He died in 1999.

Born in Dairout, Egypt in 1941, Farghali Abdel Nafiz graduated from the Institute of Art Education and the Academy of Fine Art in Florence, Italy. He had been the Dean of the Faculty of Art Education from 1989 to 1994. His choice of color is rich and ever changing. He uses oil, watercolor, acrylic, corn stalk, pencil, sand, clay, and metal.

Born in Mansoura, Egypt, in 1953, Mohamed Abla graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Alexandrian. He has referred to international art scenes frequently and had many exhibitions in European galleries. The main theme of Abla's art involves the Nile and the environment. He uses graphics, installation and oil paintings.

Abdel-Moati, Mustafa (1938–)

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