Thursday,20 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1330, (2 - 8 February 2017)
Thursday,20 September, 2018
Issue 1330, (2 - 8 February 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Life log

Georges Bahgory, Bahgory: An Egyptian Icon, Cairo: Picasso East for Art & Culture,Cairo, 2017, pp.238

Life log

This splendid coffee table book, the Picasso Art Gallery’s first publishing venture, presents the life work of the Egyptian cartoonist, painter and sculptor Georges Bahgory. The 85-year-old artist was present at the launch last week, which was also the opening of a retrospective at the gallery’s New Cairo space. Published on large-format glossy paper, the book includes reproductions of 329 paintings, 11 etchings, one carpet and 22 sculptures in wood, stone and bronze. Also included are Bahgory’ political cartoons for the sister weekly magazines Rose Al Yusuf and Sabah Alkhair, where he started his career in 1953; today Bahgory contributes a weekly drawing to this newspaper. The book also lists the artist’s exhibitions at home and abroad and the awards he received in Egypt, Syria, Spain and Italy.


Life log

Born in the Upper Egyptian city of Luxor, Bahgory lived in France for three decades. His oil paintings represented the Egyptian Pavilion at the Louvre Museum in France in 1990, with his A Face from Egypt receiving a silver award. In addition to the artist’s work, the book includes archival photographs, both black-and-white and colour, of the diminutive and at times whimsical Bahgory – bearded, and wearing a French-style beret – surrounded by politicians and celebrities.


Life log

In one photograph, the benign-looking artist sports a red clown’s nose, indicative of his ability to see the humour in himself as well as in the world around him. But his apparent nonchalance conceals a hawk-like vision. Art historian Abdel Ghaffar Shedid, critic Mohamed Boghdady, journalist Louis Greiss and columnist Gamal Zaydaa all provide articles on Bahgory’s life and work. They capture Bahgory’s singular personality: his Bohemian simplicity, his verbal reticence in public countered by his on-the-spot sketching volubility.


Life log

Bahgoury’s love of the pedestrian and mundane as well as the great has produced a rich repertoire of never-ending subjects. In pencil and charcoal, he has drawn his colleagues, passing visitors and buffet workers serving coffee at the magazines and newspapers where he worked. His vivid and intensely coloured oil paintings feature whirling dervishes and Fayoum funerary portrait-like faces. His world also encompasses street vendors and donkey carts as well as political and artistic celebrities including not only the famous “Kulthoumiat” – unique images of Egypt’s foremost diva Um Kulthoum – but also Omar Sharif and Louis Greiss, whose face Bahgory said reminded him of the Pharaoh Akhenaten’s. A master of the various media in which he has worked, Bahgory’s world is at once detailed and general, simple and sophisticated, but perhaps Boghdadi’s words best sum up his energetic and versatile talent:

“His visual language empowers him to draw any time, anywhere... on any surface or medium and as fast as you can imagine. He is a flammable artist, able to constantly ignite’.

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