Dalloul Art Foundation

Dalloul Art Foundation

GEORGE BAHGORY GEORGE BAHGORY

GEORGE BAHGORY, Egypt (1932)

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Bio

Written by Mysa Kafil-Hussain


“All my paintings are special to my heart. Each one of my paintings represents an incident or a special memory. It does not take long for me to finish my drawings; as soon as I feel like drawing, I draw, it is as simple as that”
George Bahgory[1]

Born in 1932 in the village of Bahgora, just outside Luxor and the village where his family name originates, George Bahgory’s artistic impact has spread far across Egypt and beyond, becoming an increasingly prolific painter and cartoonist over many years. Bahgory’s early life was marked by tragedy, with his mother passing away when he was just three years old. His father, a teacher and a very quiet, introverted man, married another woman who treated Bahgory cruelly as a young child. This made him seek comfort in one of his aunts who would take him out to visit people and places, creating experiences which found their way into his artworks as an adult living abroad when painting his memories of Egypt on canvas.[2]

Bahgory started drawing from a young age and began to pursue it seriously as a young adult, applying to study painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Helwan in 1950, and was subsequently accepted as a student. Upon his acceptance, the artist’s cousin, Samaan, wrote him a letter of congratulations, adding “don’t forget that I told you that you’re a talented artist, and I left you to draw in my room the entire day. Faltas, you were six years old when you drew a beautiful piece of art. I remember it still today…women, flowers, and birds.”[3] Bahgory’s given name was actually ‘Faltas’, but he likened it to the word “mefalles” meaning “broke”, which did not sit well with the young artist, later changing it to ‘George’.[4] Bahgory graduated in 1955, where he was taught by prolific Egyptian artist, Hussein Bicar, who became a mentor to the young artist and had a significant impact on his work.[5]

Following his graduation, Bahgory started his artistic career as a cartoonist for popular publications Sabah al-Khair and Rose al-Youssef. Focusing on political satire, his work was laced with a humorous spirit which he maintained in his painting later in life. Rejecting convention, caution and traditional notions of allegiance during a wave of Pan-Arabism and the widespread veneration of then-President, Gamal Abdel-Nasser, Bahgory instead chose sarcasm and comedy in his drawings, even depicting Nasser waving and sticking his tongue out at the viewer in later works.[6] The Six-Day War in 1967 created a shockwave in the region, hitting Nasserism hard and deflating multiple populations across the Arab world. Despite an established and lucrative career as a cartoonist in Egypt, Bahgory decided to leave, partly because of the impact of the war, but also the censorship and resistance to any form of political criticism within the publications he worked with.[7] He left for Paris in the early 1970s, enrolling in the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, and started a love affair with the city that kept him there for the next several decades, ending his career as a newspaper cartoonist in 1975.

However his move to France did not stop his connection with the Arab world. In 1972, Bahgory found himself in Baghdad briefly at the same time as Lebanese sculptor Alfred Basbous, and in that time drew Basbous’ distinctive profile using ink on paper. The artwork, which can be found in the Dalloul Collection, bears a note saying (in Arabic) “With my admiration for the great artist Basbous” and is a striking example of Bahgory’s skilled – yet simple – portraiture techniques, a legacy of his many years sketching cartoons. Aside from images of politicians and other figures from history, Bahgory truly loved to draw his friends and his family, commenting to a journalist whilst in a room full of portraits in his newly-founded museum in 2019: “I like to spend time in this room, because it has portraits of my friends and people I loved.”[8] His love for portraiture, faces and figures and his overall style was heavily influenced by the likes of Picasso, Klee and Egyptian artist Abdel Hadi Al Gazzar, although the impact of Egyptian Fayoum funerary portraits can also be felt in his techniques and perspectives. His figural style was rarely life-like and often cubist and veered into the dark and surreal, as seen in his 1987 artwork ‘The Little Goal Keeper’, an oil painting on canvas which can also be found in the Dalloul Collection. The subject – a young boy with his arms outstretched to protect the makeshift goal he has created – stands awkwardly and with limbs and facial features so abstracted that they almost feel disjointed. The lessons of Picasso can be seen immediately in his rendering of the child’s face, and despite many of his works being full of vibrancy and energy, this unique atmosphere that Bahgory has created seems to be quite mysterious, static and menacing. His many years of experimentations with cubism developed into more of an expressionist style, with bold lines and colours dancing dynamically on his canvases.

Despite being in Europe, his love for Egypt remained. Bahgory painted aspects of Egyptian heritage, whether it was a local scene or prolific figure, fearful that his memories and the Egypt he once knew would one day vanish: “with every stroke of the brush I recall an Egypt that I don’t want to disappear”.[9] Some of his most recognisable works, a series of paintings created over many years depicting legendary Egyptian singer, Um Kulthoum, alongside her famous orchestra, are tied into that nostalgia and the mourning of heritage. He exhibited the series in its entirety in Cairo’s Mashrabia Gallery in 2013.[10]

In 2019, Bahgory opened a private museum in Cairo, something which he referred to himself as “one of my greatest achievements…and the last one, it seems”.[11] Full of his work over many decades, it also contains volumes of autobiographies he has published and rooms dedicated to paintings, drawings and other works which illustrate his journey as an artist. Bahgory continues to work between Cairo and Paris, and although he doesn’t see himself returning to Egypt full-time, he still has a deep love for his country and his people, especially after everything they have been through in the lead up to the Arab Spring and the subsequent struggle for power. With an endless list of exhibitions, works acquired by various prestigious institutions, the publishing of three non-fiction books and one novel, and a range of prizes for his work, Bahgory does not measure his success with these achievements, but sees his value in the appreciation he receives from his fellow Egyptians: “I draw the people and the people love me for that. And this is my most treasured award.”[12]

[1] Mustafa Marie, “Madar, Arteology exhibit exclusive paintings of George Bahgoury”, Egypt Today: The Magazine of Egypt, March 17, 2019, https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/4/67139/Madar-Arteology-exhibit-exclusive-paintings-of-George-Bahgoury

[2] Rania Khallaf, “’This is one of my greatest achievements’: George Bahgory, Egypt’s renowned artist on his own museum”, Ahram Online, April 05, 2019,

https://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/5/25/329496/Arts--Culture/Visual-Art/This-is-one-of-my-greatest-achievements-George-Bah.aspx

[3] Radwan Adam, “George Bahgoury: Painting Egypt from Exile”, Al-Akhbar English, November 30, 2011, http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/2092

[4] Ibid

[5] Marie, “Madar, Arteology exhibit exclusive paintings of George Bahgoury”

[6] Khallaf, “’This is one of my greatest achievements’: George Bahgory…”

[7] Adam, “George Bahgoury: Painting Egypt from Exile”

[8] Khallaf, “’This is one of my greatest achievements’: George Bahgory…”

[9] Barjeel Art Foundation: “George Bahgory”, Barjeel Art Foundation, N.d.,  https://www.barjeelartfoundation.org/artist/egypt/george-bahgory/

[10] Ahram Online: “Art Alert: Egyptian painter Bahgoury pays tribute to music icon Umm Kolthoum”, Ahram Online, April 24, 2013, http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/5/25/70043/Arts--Culture/Visual-Art/Art-Alert-Egyptian-painter-Bahgoury-pays-tribute-t.aspx

[11] Khallaf, “’This is one of my greatest achievements’: George Bahgory…”

[12] Adam, “George Bahgoury: Painting Egypt from Exile”

Sources

Adam, Radwan. “George Bahgoury: Painting Egypt from Exile”. Al-Akhbar English. November 30, 2011. Accessed January 2021. http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/2092

Ahram Online: “Art Alert: Egyptian painter Bahgoury pays tribute to music icon Umm Kolthoum”. Ahram Online. April 24, 2013. Accessed January 2021.  http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/5/25/70043/Arts--Culture/Visual-Art/Art-Alert-Egyptian-painter-Bahgoury-pays-tribute-t.aspx

Barjeel Art Foundation: “George Bahgory”. Barjeel Art Foundation. N.d. Accessed January 2021. https://www.barjeelartfoundation.org/artist/egypt/george-bahgory/

Khallaf, Rania. “’This is one of my greatest achievements’: George Bahgory, Egypt’s renowned artist on his own museum”. Ahram Online. April 05, 2019. Accessed January 2021. https://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/5/25/329496/Arts--Culture/Visual-Art/This-is-one-of-my-greatest-achievements-George-Bah.aspx

Marie, Mustafa. “Madar, Arteology exhibit exclusive paintings of George Bahgoury”. Egypt Today: The Magazine of Egypt. March 17, 2019. Accessed January 2021. https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/4/67139/Madar-Arteology-exhibit-exclusive-paintings-of-George-Bahgoury

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CV

Selected Solo Exhibitions    

2021

A Sketch is a Sketch is a Sketch…, Mashrabia Gallery of Contemporary Art, Cairo, Egypt

2019

حكاية 88 عاماً من الفن, Liwan Gallery, Zamalek , Cairo, Egypt
Madar and Archeology center, Katameya Heights Business Centre, Cairo, Egypt

2018

وجوه مُتعبة وونس, Picasso Gallery, Cairo, Egypt  

2017

Egyptian Icon, Picasso East Gallery, New Cairo , Cairo, Egypt

2016

Life Notes, Picasso Gallery, Cairo, Egypt

2015

Lasting Impressions: George Bahgory Exhibition, Sharjah Art Museum, UAE

2014

Nostalgic Dreams, Al Masar Gallery, Cairo, Egypt

2011

أعمال ٮهحوري الممنوعة, Sakiyat Al Sawi, Cairo, Egypt

2007

Picasso Gallery, Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt
Nahdet Misr Gallery, Mahmoud Mukhtar Museum, Giza, Cairo, Egypt

2005

Bahgoury Café, Picasso Gallery, Cairo, Egypt

2004

Dar El Mashreq, Amman, Jordan

2000

Picasso Gallery, Cairo, Egypt

1999

Arabesque Gallery, Cairo, Egypt

1996

Khan Al-Maghraby Gallery, Cairo, Egypt
Al-Mashrabia Gallery, Cairo, Egypt

1998

Al-Mashrabia Gallery, Cairo, Egypt

1973

Fine Arts Gallery, Cairo, Egypt

Selected Group Exhibitions               

2019

The Collector’s Eye VI’ , Ubuntu Gallery, Cairo, Egypt
A la plume, au pinceau, au crayon : dessins du monde Arabe, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France

2018

The Collector’s Eye V, Ubuntu Gallery, Cairo, Egypt

2017

The Collector’s Eye IV, Ubuntu Gallery, Cairo, Egypt

2016

The Collector’s Eye III, Ubuntu Gallery, Cairo, Egypt

2015

The Collector’s Eye, Ubuntu Gallery, Cairo, Egypt
Egyptian Quartet, Picasso Gallery, Cairo, Egypt

2011

Caravan, Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE

2008

Caricature Exhibition, Mahmoud Saeed Center of Museums , Alexandria, Egypt

2007

Art and Grant,  Al-Oruba Rotary Club, Cairo
1st Festival of Fine Creation, Cairo, Egypt
30th General Exhibition, Cairo, Egypt

2005

29th National Exhibition of Fine Arts, Cairo, Egypt

2004

1st Exhibition of Press Illustrations, Palace of Arts, Cairo

1984

Contemporary Arab Art Exhibition, Tunisia

1983

Contemporary Arab Artists, Iraqi Culturel Center, London, UK

1977

Exhibition of the Contemporary Art, Sudan

1976

15th Spring Exhibition Cairo, Egypt

1966

Venice Biennale, Italy

1965

Alexandria Biennale, Egypt

Public Exhibitions

2008

Festival of Sketches and Mini Tableaux, Shadecor Gallery, Cairo, Egypt
13th Aswan International Symposium of Sculpture, Aswan, Egypt

2007

Egyptian Smiles, 18th Gabrufu Biennale, Bulgaria

2005

2nd International Biennial of Book Fancy, Alexandria, Egypt

Awards and Honors    

N.d.

Prize and Golden Medal by Franco Characater Caricature, Spain     

1979

Honorary Prize of Comic Strip, Damascus, Syria        
Prize and Golden Medal by Franco Characater Caricature, Spain

1978

Prize from Biennial of Caricature, Italy           

Collections

AbdulMagid Breish Collection of Arab Art, London, United Kingdom; Tripoli, Libya
Al-Sharekh Collection, Kuwait
Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Embassy of Egypt, Paris, France
Embassy of Egypt, London, United Kingdom
Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan
Museum of Modern Art, Cairo, Egypt
Ramzi & Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon
Al-Shona Museum, Alexandria, Egypt

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Documents

Atfal Al Hara
Toufic Hannah
Hiwar/ Abboudi Abu Jawdeh Collection, Arabic
Contemporary Arab Artists
Iraqi Culturel Center, English, 1983
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Press

عين الرسام ليست مرآة
Farouk Youssef
Al Arab, Arabic, 2020
كتابه «الرسوم الممنوعة» أثار أزمة كاريكاتيرية بهجوري: دافعت عن فن الكاريكاتير فهاجموني باسم صلاح جاهين
Salah Chahin
Al Qabas, Arabic
يتضمن الرسوم الممنوعة لجورج البهجوري: كتاب يكشف عن صراعات السلطة داخل صورة الكاريكاتور
Al Quds, Arabic, 2007
جورج بهجوري.. حكاية فنان
Nadine Hamameh
Ahram, Arabic, 2016
شاهد.. جورج بهجورى يرسم اللوحات الفنية مع أطفال مستشفى 57357
Youm 7, Arabic, 2019
كتاب "أيقونة مصرية" يحتفى بـجورج بهجورري ويضم 300 عمل فنى بالألوان
Besent Jamil
Yom7, Arabic, 2017
جورج بهجوري.. الجندى المقاتل بالريشة والألوان
Fadi Francis
Al Masri aL Youm, Arabic, 2016
حكاية البهجورى .. بيكاسو المصرى
Sabah Rose El Youssef, Arabic, 2015
جورج البهجوري بعد كتابه المثير للجدل: رواد فن الكاريكاتير "لصوص ظرفاء
Syria Cartoon, Arabic, 2010
"ذكريات الجوافة".. كتاب جديد لـ"جورج بهجور!"
Abdalaah Al Sawi
Dostor, Arabic, 2017
جورج بهجوري: الفنان كائن غير مسئول
Wahid Taja
Islam Online, Arabic
جورج بهجوري: عبد الناصر ضحك من قلبه عندما رسمته في كاريكاتير ساخر والسادات غضب ووضعني علي القائمة السوداء!
Al Quds, Arabic, 2007
جورج بهجوري*.. أيقونة مصرية
Roayah news, Arabic, 2017
أعمال "جورج بهجوري" في رسالة ماجستير للباحثة "رشا جوهر"
Al Bawaba News, Arabic, 2017
جورج بهجوري ُيرقص العالم في راحةكفه
Noura Amine
Al ArabI al Jadeed, Arabic, 2016
George Bahgoury: Painting Egypt from Exile
Radwan Adam
Al Akhbar/ English, English, 2011
جورج بهجوري.. رسم على رسم
Shadi Salaheddine
Al Qabas, Arabic
الفكر يواجه بالفكر وليس بالإرهاب
Ayman Abdel Majid
Al Arab, Arabic, 2015
جورج بهجوري المستعاد كما لو أنه الآخر الذي يرسم نفسه
Farouk Youssef
Al Arab, Arabic, 2011
"جورج بهجوري.. فنان متيم بالتحديق في وجوه البشر "
Khaled Hammad
Aswat online, Arabic, 2019
جورج البهجوري لـ «الراي»: تشققات الوجوه في أعمالي سرد لـ قسوة ما نعيشه
Khaled Hamad
Al Rai, Arabic, 2013
مهجر من دون بهجر
Enam Kah Je
Al Sharq Al Awsat, Arabic, 2020
الفنان المصري جورج بهجوري: كنت أتمني أن ألقى التكريم الذي أستحقه
Tomatocartoon, Arabic, 2019
صور| تعرف على الأعمال الفائزة فى مسابقة جورج بهجورى للكاريكاتير
Ahmad Nabil Khodr
Mobtada, Arabic, 2013
ياسين فراج: الاستمتاع ركيزة أساسية لتقييم الأغاني
Mohammed Al Hamamsi
Al Arab, Arabic, 2020
فنان استلهم أبطاله من قلب البيئة الشعبية في مصر
Hatem Al Jasmi
Al Arab, Arabic, 2017
جورج البهجوري أيقونة مصرية
Hanane Akil
Al Jadid, Arabic, 2016
This is one of my greatest achievements': George Bahgory, Egypt's renowned artist on his own museum
Rania Khallaf
Ahram Online, English, 2019
مودي حكيم يكتب بهجر و بهاجيجو
Moudy Hakim
Rose Al Youssef, Arabic, 2020
جورج البهجوري : أسلوب خاص وخطوط مميزة.. تجمع بين الفن التشكيلى والكاريكاتير الساخر
Eid Abdel Halim
Al Ahlya Gate, Arabic, 2020
جورج البهجوري أيقونة مصرية
Hanane Akil
Al Arab, Arabic, 2016
حول رؤية الفنان
fineart.gov, Arabic
جورج البهجوري: رسمت حتى ارتويت ودخلتُ عالم الأدب من النافذة
Yasser Sultan
Ammon News, Arabic, 2011
جورج البهجوري.. فنان عالمي يهدي لوحاته لمقاهي القاهرة
Khalaf Jaber
Al Mayadeen, Arabic, 2020
Cairo Art Crime: George Bahgory and the Missing Pieces
Jonathan Guyer
ICWA, English, 2015
يعرض اعماله في غاليري دار المشرق: جورج بهجوري علامة فنية وخصوصية غير متعارف عليها
Mohamed El Ameri
Al Dustur, Arabic, 2004
بالصور.. أعمال بهجورى الممنوعة من الأهرام تعرض بساقية الصاوى
Al Yawm aL sabeh, Arabic, 2011
Art Alert: Georges Bahgory's 'Nostalgic Dreams' in Al Masar Gallery
Ahram Online, English, 2014
George Bahgory’s nostalgic dreams
Thuraya Abou Baker
Daily News, English, 2014
"NOSTALGIC DREAMS" BY GEORGES BAHGORY
Cairo Scene, English
 بالصور.. جورج بهجورى يقدم 50 لوحة فى معرضه الجديد بحضور فاروق حسنى
Youm 7, Arabic, 2017
الفنان التشكيلي جورج بهجوري.. 85 عامًا من الحياة بالألوان
Nema Ezzeddine
Erem News, Arabic, 2017
معرض جديد لبهجوري.. وجوه مُتعبة وونس
Hicham Aslan
Al Modon, Arabic, 2018
معرض جديد في مصر يحتفي بعوالم جورج بهجوري
Al Ain, Arabic, 2018
جورج بهجوري: لوحات للحب وكرة القدم
Al Araby Al Jadeed, Arabic, 2018
«حكاية 88 عاماً» يروي مشوار جورج بهجوري في الفن والحياة
Al Sharq Al Awsat, Arabic, 2019
الفن يمزق الأقنعة و يقترح حياة أخرى
Charif Al Chafii
Sahifat Al Arab, Arabic, 2019
فاروق حسنى يزور معرض الفنان جورج بهجوري بالزمالك
Ahram Online, Arabic, 2020
جورج بهجوري... ريشة لا تحتاج إلى توقيع
May Ibrahim
Independent Arabia, Arabic, 2019
Madar, Arteology exhibit exclusive paintings of George Bahgoury
Mustafa Marie
Egypt Today, English, 2019
Highlights from ‘The Collector’s Eye VI’ at Cairo’s Ubuntu Gallery
Arab News, English, 2019
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Videos

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Exhibitions

GEORGE BAHGORY Artwork

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