Design Works and Illustrations by Helmi el-Touni

October 19th-November 13th, 2014, Opening Sunday, Oct. 19th, 6pm

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 at 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 the first in a series of projects, which trace the development of design in the Arab world and aim to contribute to the thriving debate on the theory and practice of graphic design in the region.

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 some of the most iconic logos in Arab graphic design history. His practice earned him many local and international awards and has had a lasting influence on following generations.

In el-Touni’s design works we encounter a rich and evocative image world that is both deeply rooted in local visual traditions and addresses the pressing social issues of his time. With his expressive and metaphorical iconography and distinctive color palette, el-Touni provides political commentary, 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. There, he created some of his most remarkable political posters, logos, 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. He also spent these years collaborating with newspapers, magazines, and publishers from all over the Arab world.

Documenting more than thirty years of award-winning work, the collection on display will have original designs and sketches from the artist himself and from the collection of Dar al-Shorouk. 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 book launch Hilmi el-Tuni, Evoking Popular Arab Culture, coupled with a public talk by Helmi el-Touni. Written by Yasmine Taan and published by Khatt foundation in Amsterdam, Hilmi el-Tuni is the first well-developed documentation of the artist’s works and his life as an artist and a designer. Both events are scheduled to take place on the 9th of November at 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