Lot 33
  • 33

Maher Raif

4,000 - 6,000 GBP
10,625 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Maher Raif
  • Untitled 
  • signed Maher Rayef
  • pencil and pastel on paper 


Private Collection, Germany
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2002

Catalogue Note

Maher Raeif was born in Cairo in 1926. His father was a painter and strongly pushed his son to follow in his footsteps. He graduated from the Fine Arts School of Cairo, where he also pursued philosophical studies. A rare artist, with little of his oeuvre known to collectors and historians, Maher Raeif was an active member of the Contemporary Art Group from 1946 through to 1952. With his fellow group members, Hamed Nada and Samir Rafi, the group aimed to produce a type of art that was expressive of Egypt and the Egyptian identity, free of her colonial and European past. In 1952 he takes part in the Venice Biennale where he gains notable recognition. 

Raeif can be labelled as an ardent student, constantly improving on his earlier studies. He moved to Germany in the 1960s to pursue further studies, initially in Düsseldorf to learn the art of printmaking and followed by a PhD in the Philosophy of Art from the University of Cologne. Throughout his time in Germany he held many successful exhibitions, with a significant show at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf during the summer of 1963 (16th July – 1st September). Raeif also exhibited at the 5th Alexandria Biennale (12th December 1963 – 31th March 1964); and the 6th Alexandria Biennale (15th December 1965 – 31th March 1966).

Upon his return to Egypt in the 1970s, Raeif became a faithful Sufi, abandoning all types of figurative painting and focusing instead on abstraction and calligraphy. He was the Dean of the École de Beaux-Arts at the University of Alexandria from 1979 to 1986.  Following his retirement he re-located to the United States to live with his family. In reference to the present work which depicts three horses in an architectural landscape, Raeif is able to manipulate the painting with a rhythmic stability. Despite a chaotic figuration, there is a sense of formality in the positioning of the horses. With a passive demeanour, infused with resignation, the horses are imbued in a solidified world with no means of escaping. The subjects are fluid, yet far removed in the dramatic composition of the work. His palette is a classic gradation, with a discreet distribution of shades and shadows. It is luminously balanced with the use of different tonalities of primary colour. Despite the main subject of the painting, the horses gaze into a void. Raeif forces the viewer to find a balance through his expressionist style set upon an architectural background.