Nadim Elias, Egyptian Collector, in conversation with Kurt Blackenberg, COLLECTOR. associate Dubai.

COLLECTOR. magazine issue 02

Samir Rafi, The Dog and the Fish, 1972. Images courtesy of Nadim Elias

Chairman and CEO of the Sahara Printing Company, Nadim Elias developed his fascination with painting and sculpture after gaining exposure to Picasso, Miro, Dali and Modigliani in his youth. This fuelled his attraction to surrealism and figurative expressions as movements which grapple with questions concerning the human psyche. Elias started his collection in 1990 after purchasing a painting by Hamed Nada and has subsequently expanded his understanding of contemporary art through frequent visits to museums and galleries in Europe and Egypt.Kurt Blanckenberg: Share a little background of your collection. How did you get into collecting? What was that first piece? 

Nadim Elias: I have been fascinated by art, especially painting and sculpture, since an early age. My parents were not involved in the artworld, but because of their history with the publishing industry, we have always had strong ties to books and culture.My mother taught me about artists such as Picasso, Miro, Modigliani, Dali, and numerous others, and I became increasingly more attracted towards surrealism and figurative expressions – paintings that dig into the human psyche. These works allowed for me to continually search for meaning behind and within each work.I began my collection in 1990, just after we had printed the first Abdel Hadi Al Gazzar book. I think the first serious painting I brought was a Hamed Nada.
How has your collecting approach changed or evolved?
Long hours of discussion with art critics such as Ahmed Fouad Selim and Mostafa El Razzaz, as well as artists like Siwi, Abla and Adam Heinen, have helped to shape my artistic taste and approach to collecting. 
There is a growing international interest in contemporary art from Africa and the Middle East. What do you think is driving this fascination? 
Contemporary art from Africa and the Middle East is still a relatively unexplored area for many collectors, and is considered to be an exciting new frontier filled with fresh energy and artistic talent. Immigration from these two geographies over the past decade has grown immensely, simultaneously expanding the reach of art and artists to a global level. This has also developed new audiences for artists and created a broader interest in, and understanding of, art. 
Which emerging artist do you have your eye on? Who do you think looks like a good investment right now?
I’m keeping my eye on emerging Egyptian artists like Magued Mikhail, Hany Rashid, Aliu Abdel Mohsen, and Ahmed Kassim.