A Nations Accomplishment: The High Dam Contextual Analysis Essay

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This piece resembles one of the unusual styles that talks about the high dam in Alexandria. It is considered remarkable because Seif Wanly the artist, chose dusk as his pallet of colors. He also used an individual point of view and perspective in a rare composition that no one else thought of approaching it. His style was ahead of his time as he managed to present this subject in an attractive manner.

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Thesis: The masterpiece of art that was designed by an artist who was ahead of his time, Seif Wanly.

The high dam is referred to as a masterpiece of art because so many dams have been designed before and after it yet none compares to it in the contemporary world. This piece of art illustrates an artist who was really passionate about art and outdid himself by coming up with the same. The creativity and mastery of skill portrayed by this dam are unmatched and the fact that it was developed at a time when it was really crucial tops it all up.

Seif Wanly Biography

Seif Wanly, the artist, was born in 1906 and he is a renowned Egyptian artist who grew up in an aristocratic family in Alexandria. He was raised to appreciate art, literature, and all types of human creativity. He didn’t start his career as an artist right away, his first job was as a public official at the customs archives of Alexandria. Seif and his brother Adam started painting in 1929 when the Italian artist Ottorino Becchi opened a studio of art in Alexandria, and the two brothers became his first students. In 1934, Becchi left Egypt then Seif and his brother established their studio with their friends (Adam Fehmi) and the filmmaker (Mohammed Bayoumi).

Seif Wanly’s popularity can be attributed to his high artistic productions as he managed to produce a lot of paintings as wells as a vast number of drawings and sketches. He was inspired by the use of the light and gentle strokes of his Italian professor. Seif changed his style later in his career. He started using large surfaces and bold colors and exercised freedom with the structure of his composition and with his ideas. This gave his art a particular character and uniqueness ("Seif Wanly").

This artwork is one of the pieces which were produced in the time when the ministry of culture commissioned the wan brothers with a group of artists of the same generation to record the architectural heritage of Nubia before it gets flooded with the construction of the high dam. However, we can notice the dark colors and cool tones which overwhelmed the work. Some say it is due to his severe mentality during this period because it was when his brother passed away. Besides this piece he painted numerous views of Nubian villages before being flooded in addition to landscapes of Egypt and the countries, he visited such as Spain, France, Italy, etc. All those artworks became a documentary later on because they talked about a period and era. His works are exhibited in the Seif and Adam Wanly museum which is hosted in the villa of the Mahmoud Saeed Museum in Alexandria, the Museum of fine arts in Alexandria, the modern art displayed in the Museum in Cairo, and the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar (Aakash).

Egyptian artists are well-known through the history of art with their striking artwork and unique style. Egypt welcomed and encouraged its artists as we can find valuable art pieces such as paintings, sculptures, reliefs, and fresco since 4 thousand before Christ. These art pieces described Egyptian life and the daily human activities, gods, literature, religious practices, dancers, etc. The beautiful details and the description of those events help us to understand how this nation value art does and welcome it through different aspects of their life. Some of those art pieces describe the catastrophic yearly flood of the Nile and how it brings destruction and death to the region. In ancient Egypt, the Nile was worshiped, and the wave was considered a strike from God. Egyptians suffered for centuries from this natural phenomenon which takes place every autumn. However, it took them ages to decide and take action towards this repeated destruction ("VCU.Edu - Central Authentication Service").

Building the High Dam in 1971 took years of planning and tremendous efforts to accomplish. Hundreds of workers died building this dam. However, their sacrifices did not go worthless because it was with their efforts that the dam was built and the terror that accompanies the flood every year was stopped once for all. It’s a national accomplishment that people decide to take action to face such phenomena that destroyed their lands and lives since the beginning of time ("Seif Wanly").

Art and Architecture in Ancient Egypt

Most of the Egyptian modern artists carry a glimpse of the ancient Egyptian art style which was common during the great Pharos dynasty. I found two or three paintings of Seif Wanly carry the spirit of some of the Pharos artwork. I can’t say that he is the only one who carried this spirit, but I must admit that his work drew my attention to this issue.

Egypt has a great history of respecting arts and artists. Their educational foundations and establishments provided art education to Egyptians and Arabs across the region and because of their respect for art and culture we can find the Egyptian art styles have more freedom and value in their practices compared with other Arab artists such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the GCC artists ("VCU.Edu - Central Authentication Service").

Many factors participate in giving the Egyptian artist the freedom of speech and practice. One of them is a lifestyle. The other is the vast size of the country and the different types of civilizations and cultures. All those factors endorsed the artists and provided them with the essential elements to create and achieve.

What Was the Purpose of Building the New Aswan High Dam?

The high dam is one of the main subjects which was the primary concern of the Egyptian nation for years before and after building it. Before when the River Nile used to flood and destroy villages and take hundreds of lives, and after when this large facility was built and how it was built.

The name of the Dam in Arabic is Al-Sadd al-Ali. The structure is that of a rockfill dam across the Nile River at the Aswan city of Egypt. It was completed at the cost of about one billion US Dollars. It is 111 meters high, has a length of 3,830 meters, and has a capacity of 44,300,000 cubic meters. It holds a reservoir which is Lake Nasser that has a gross capacity of 169 billion cubic meters. The Nile River is backed up by Lake Nasser for about 320 km in Egypt and almost 160 km farther south in Sudan.

The foundation of the reservoir demanded the expensive relocation of the ancient Egyptian temple of Abu Simbel otherwise it has been lost and underwater by now. This resulted in the reallocation of Ninety thousand Egyptian peasants, and Sudanese Nubian Bedouins had to be relocated, and most of the Sudanese were resettled in Sudan.

The total annual discharge of the Nile74 billion cubic meters of water has been allocated by agreement between both Egypt and Sudan, of about 55.5 billion cubic meters allocated to Egypt and the remainder to Sudan.


In conclusion, this artwork is not a simple portrayal of a dam, it is a story of a nation. A story of destruction and suffering that was ended with a big accomplishment. It also explains a journey of an artist and his personal experience during the making of this artwork. It is considered unique because of its particular style and approach. I think this piece carries all the stories of those who died while building it, this is why I consider it special and unique.

Works Cited

Aakash, dktorthrot. dktorthrot aakashh. dar almaaarf bmsr, 1976.

"Seif Wanly". Encyclopedia.Mathaf.Org.Qa, 2016, http://www.encyclopedia.mathaf.org.qa/en/bios/Pages/Seif-Wanly.aspx.

"VCU.Edu - Central Authentication Service". Academic.Eb.Com.Proxy.Library.Vcu.Edu, 2016, http://academic.eb.com.proxy.library.vcu.edu/levels/collegiate/article/10017.

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