The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Arts & Culture

Georges Bahgory: The Grandaddy of Egyptian Caricature

Georges Bahgory: The Grandaddy of Egyptian Caricature
written by
Naila Haris

Georges Bahgory is one of Egypt’s most renowned contemporary artists. Widely referred to as ‘the granddaddy of Egyptian caricature,’ Bahgory is most famous for his political cartoons that have been featured in Arabic press for decades.

He is a multifaceted and multidimensional artist with an impressive history, having written books, garnered numerous national and international honours and participated in over thirty exhibitions across Europe and the Middle East. Bahgory has mastered various fine art mediums, including  drawing, painting and prints as well as photography and  sculpture. This month, his paintings will be exhibited at El Masar Gallery in Zamalek.

Works by Bahgory can be categorized as expressionist and cubist with bright colours appealing to folk art fans. He cites 20th century favourite Pablo Picasso, Egyptian modernist Abdel Hadi Al Gazzar, German expressionist Paul Klee, and Egyptian Fayoum portraits, among others, as his influences. Bahgory paints in a manner that viewers can perceive as either dark or whimsical, a model combination for the rugged and creative spirit of both Egypt and the 20th century’s best-selling artist.

Georges Bahgory was born in Luxor in 1935. He started drawing when he was four years old and continued throughout school, where he doodled endlessly in his science textbooks. Soon after, he enrolled at the Fine Arts Faculty in Zamalek in 1949. Upon graduation, he worked for Arabic magazines, including Ros El Youssef and Sabah El Kheir. In 1970, Bahgory moved to Paris and studied at École des Beaux Arts (Fine Arts Institute), where he learned how to express himself freely.

Today, Bahgory lives in Paris, making regular trips to Egypt. He considers Egypt his energizing source of inspiration where his internal battery recharges and where his ideas for paintings also originate. Paris, on the other hand, is the place for his creative unleash.

Bahgory doodles to this day. He is an avid journal keeper, recording with acute awareness his surroundings into ‘carnets des voyages’ (sketchbook diary). His diary includes many sights familiar to anyone living in Cairo, such as a man riding a bicycle with a tray of bread on his head, women in markets, boys playing football, people in cafés, and so on. To date, he has filled over 500 carnets des voyages.

Bahgory doesn’t primarily regard himself a writer, but he’s quite the wordsmith, as evident in his published books and enchanting artist statements on romancing the canvas or his relationship with his work. 

In Bahgory most recent book titled, Bahgory: An Egyptian Artist’s Words And Pictures (November 2008), he exhibits recent works alongside excerpts from his previously released autobiographical novel.

Bahgory creates vignettes, brief scenes richly textured for a tapestry of fantasy. His sixty years of artistic practice shine through ardent words conveying acute awareness of sensual landscapes.

His quotes are passionate, lively, and sometimes humorous. ‘As the lips of the brush touch the surface of the canvas, a kiss is blown and when you add colour to the line, the palette cheers,’ reads a quote available at Al Masar Gallery.

Bahgory’s energy is one that he loves to share with the world. He is also quite the businessman and very net-savvy, being well-linked to online artist networks, such as Artlooker, ArtSlant and a treasure of online gallery teasers. Prints of his major and current works are available for purchase. So far, his work has been exhibited in France, Egypt and the UK as well as Iraq, Jordan and Italy.

Next stop: Cairo! Paintings by Georges Bahgory will be exhibited at Al Masar Gallery for Contemporary Art from January 16th until February 7th 2011. The exhibition will begin at 7PM pm on January 16th.

For more information about Bahgory and his paintings, talk to the gallery’s staff, who are courteous and very educated in the fine arts. Contact them at and or call 27368537.