When East Meets the West Exhibit

An article from “The Citizen” a local newspaper in Bay Area City, Texas.
Printed on August 19, 2009

Physician’s Art Blends East and West

By Mary Ann Hellinghausen

Dr. Ezzat Abouleish loves to sip tea and tell jokes when in his homeland of Egypt. But since coming to the United States 41 years ago, painting has become his love, leading to a unique marriage of Western and Islamic art.

“I like Islamic, Arabic art, but it misses something – the colors and designs of classic Western art,’’ the retired physician said. “I was looking for the birth of a new art.’’

Abouleish, 78, professor emeritus of anesthesiology at the University of Texas-Houston and a longtime Brook Forest resident, has always been artistic.

“I consider medicine an art and a science,’’ Abouleish said. “You can’t take art from medicine.’’ While a teaching and practicing physician, he designed his own text books and drew the illustrations, which were completed by professional medical illustrators.

Over the last decade, with training from College of the Mainland, private instructors and observations of the masters in Paris and London, he has been painting prolifically.

Freeman Exhibit

His exhibit, “Where the East Meets the West,’’ featuring 31 pieces, can be seen at the Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library through Sept. 30, during the month of Ramadan.

Freeman Librarian Karen Akkerman said the library likes to display exhibits about various holidays, especially showing different cultures. “It keeps us as diverse as possible,’’ she said. “”We get lots of feedback from people who really appreciate it.’’

The annual fast of Ramadan is considered one of the five “pillars” of Islam. Muslims who are physically able are required to fast each day of the entire month, from sunrise to sunset. The evenings are spent enjoying family and community meals, engaging in prayer and spiritual reflection, and reading from the Qu’ran.

Illustrating the Qu’ran

Abouleish also is busy creating an illustrated version of the 640-page Qu’ran using calligraphy. It’s taken him five years to complete about 540 pages so far. “Each chapter has its own design to reflect the meaning of the chapter,’’ he said. “Sometimes I’ll work on it until 2 in the morning. I love it. Once I get started working on it, I can’t stop.’’

Abouleish was one of the main artists of the project “Painting for Peace’’ that was displayed at Rice University, Ghandi Center in Houston and the University of Houston in 2006.

Among his works on exhibit at Freeman are “God’s Blessings,’’ which blends Islamic images with the Western image of a turkey and “The Elephant Story,’’ an illustration of a story in the Qu’ran during the period of the birth-year of the prophet Muhammad.

The library also has copies of his three books.

Freeman is located at 16616 Diana Lane, Houston, 77062. For more information, visit http://www.hcpl.net/location/clear-lake-city-county-freeman-branch-library?page=1.

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