George BahgoryFollow Artist
George Bahgory is one of Egypt’s most renowned, multi-disciplinary artists who was born in 1932. His surname is derived from his birthplace, a small village called Bahgora in Nag Hammadi, near Luxor in Upper Egypt.
An award-winning artist, Bahgory is often referred to as the grandfather of Egyptian caricature. He completed a degree at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Zamalek and also studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Bahgory is a multifaceted and multidimensional artist, having worked as a painter, sculptor, photographer and writer, creating sculptures in clay, bronze and stone, paintings in oil and watercolour, and sketches and drawings in ink and pencil, on canvas and paper, while also producing lithographs, tapestries and collages, among others.
He is, however, especially famous for his political cartoons, having begun his career as a satirist in the late 1950s, when he was employed as a young cartoonist for a magazine titled Rose al-Yusuf. His cartoons quickly became a long-running staple in the Arabic press, garnering favour with the public at a time when caricature was a flourishing art form. A proponent of free speech, Bahgory’s cartoons were loaded with satire; he was unafraid to take politicians to task and poke fun at governments and their decisions. However, as censorship intensified and facing loss of freedom of expression, Bahgory, like many other artists, decided to leave Egypt, moving to Paris, where he remained for several decades.
George Bahgory’s figurative style, wit and acerbity feature prominently in his art, which is expressionist and cubist in style.
He cites Pablo Picasso as one of his primary sources of inspiration and the resemblance between his paintings and pencil drawings and the Spanish painter and sculptor’s work is clearly evident. Indeed, Bahgory is sometimes referred to as‘The Picasso of Egypt’. Egyptian popular culture and heritage are also key themes in Bahgory’s work, brought to life through the use of a colourful palette, nostalgic motifs and references to icons of bygone eras, like Umm Kalthoum.
Bahgory’s work has been shown extensively in Egypt, the wider Middle East and Europe. Recent solos shows include: ‘George Bahgory’, Ubuntu Art Gallery, Cairo (2021) and ‘George Bahgory: Lasting Impressions’, Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah (2015). He has also taken part in several collectives, including ‘Crossroads: A Collector’s Tale’, Picasso Art Gallery, Cairo (2023); ‘Reimagined Memories’, Ubuntu Art Gallery, Cairo (2021); and ‘The Collector’s Eye VI’, Ubuntu Art Gallery, Cairo (2019).
George Bahgory has also written several books. He retains over 1,000 sketchbooks that were stored in his atelier, including one titled ‘The Forbidden Drawings’, which takes the form of an illustrative narration of his study days in Cairo, complete with drawings of his friends and faculty members.
The recipient of several accolades and honours, he was awarded the Prix d’État d’Excellence dans les arts in 2006.