Egyptian art spans three millennia from the Early Dynastic period (c. 3000 BC) to the period of Roman occupied Egypt ending in the first centuries AD. It is generally divided into 5 major periods: Old Kingdom (2700 – 2180BC), Middle Kingdom (2050 – 1650BC), New Kingdom (1550 – 1050BC), Late Period (665 – 330), and Ptolemaic era (330 – 30BC) with smaller groupings or divisions in between representing spans of time in which unified dynastic rule was interrupted. Concentrated largely along the Nile River since the 4th millennia BC, Egyptian civilization, developed a sophisticated culture and system of governance, science, agriculture, art, and architecture that remained unbroken for over 3500 years. Over this time, artists adhered to artistic forms and iconography that were developed during the Old Kingdom, and followed a strict set of principles that resisted foreign influence and internal change for thousands of years. These artistic standards–simple lines, shapes, and flat areas of color combined with the characteristic flat projection of figures with no indication of spatial depth–created a sense of order and balance within a composition. Images and text were intimately interwoven on tomb and temple walls, coffins, stelae, and even statues. However, over the millennia the Egyptians mastered many different forms of art beyond painting and writing. Everything from grand sculpture, to metalwork, pottery, and jewelry-making prospered… much of which served either a royal or divine purpose and carried a potent Spiritual component.
It is in this vein, that a large sampling of Egyptian art was never even intended to be seen, (let alone critiqued and discussed), as the viewers were either divine or deceased. For example, the archetypal frontal facing Egyptian statue, was often meant for the divine or the deceased to embody so that it could find a physical repository, become spiritually enabled, and receive offerings. The Ka, or spirit, of the divine or deceased entity used these statues as conduits between both worlds and also functioned as intermediaries between the Gods and people. As intermediaries between the worlds of the living and that of the dead these statues served an incredibly important role in the religious and spiritual life of the Egyptians, becoming not only brilliant works of art, but vehicles for spiritual and energetic transformation.
These statues, in this manner, were just one of many highly functional objects created by the Egyptians to enact a markedly sophisticated form of Spiritual science. Every aspect of Egyptian culture from the art and architecture to their sciences and political structures was heavily imbued with this reverence for the sacred and the realm of the spirit. Nonetheless, it should be noted that Egyptian civilization was also extremely fluid and dynamic, and although large swathes of grand Egyptian art is either divine or royal in nature there are many examples of every day objects that combine the precise style and delicate beauty of the grander art into functional pieces. The Barakat Gallery proudly houses thousands of examples of both types, with everything from monumental limestone stele to delicately carved faience scarabs.