This article discusses a painting of the Great Dam of Aswan made by Abdel Hadi al-Gazzar in 1964 and immediately crowned as the iconic image of Egypt in the heroic age of the Nasser regime. The painting clearly adopts the aesthetic language of surrealism, illustrating a particular zeitgeist in the Egyptian artistic milieu and mirroring the individual and genuine artistic response of al-Gazzar to the utopian, almost mythical status given to surrealism in Egypt in the first half of the last century. This work of art is dealt with here as a reflection of the changing social and political context in Egypt in the 1950s and the early 1960s under the governorship of the charismatic ruler Gamal Abdel Nasser, and as influenced by the global Cold War era.

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