An Ear of Mud, An Ear of Paste

Abdel Hadi El-Gazzar Egyptian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 901

An Ear of Mud, An Ear of Paste is a colloquial expression in Egyptian Arabic that refers to someone who is deaf to what is transpiring around them. The two ears on the side of the beggar’s head recalls the expression, while in the background, the prone bodies of three men suggest they are "dead" to the world. El-Gazzar and other members of Egypt’s Contemporary Art Group (est. 1946) identified the unorthodox mystical beliefs and popular culture of the urban underclass as sources of artistic and political inspiration. Painted on the eve of the Free Officers’ Coup (1952) and the end of British rule, the work reads as a portrait of Egyptian society suffering under immense strain.

An Ear of Mud, An Ear of Paste, Abdel Hadi El-Gazzar (Egyptian, Alexandria 1925–1966 Cairo), Oil on paperboard

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