18 April 2010
Talented caricaturist Amr Fahmy, whose daily cartoons have appeared in the State-owned daily Al-Akhbar for the past 27 years, finds his main inspiration in the natural world and the people around him. One of the most gifted cartoonists in Egypt, Fahmy is distinguished for his news sense and the ironic insight he shows in his daily caricatures. Fahmy is popular because he expresses critical issues in a uniquely lifelike way.
Meeting the audience
Fahmy agrees absolutely with the words of Aristotle that caricature is the art of making people laugh and helping them purify their flaws by laughing at themselves. It also helps lighten the problems and irritations of daily life.
Fahmy’s work was recently celebrated at the Alexandria Book Fair, where the artist came face to face with his audience. Talking about his book Dahkaat Ghadiba (Angry Laughter), Fahmy said: “Animation films are inspired by cartoons. Cartoon is the art of exaggeration and deformity in order to criticise or make fun of something. Sometimes it is a gesture or a specific behaviour that gets someone to smile. It is the artist’s best tool for expressing human reality, concerns and circumstances.
“A joke has immense power,” he says. “Once upon a time, following Egypt’s defeat in the 1967 War, President Gamal Abdel-Nasser asked people to stop making fun of the army. But even though one can never know the source of a joke, the cartoon is drawn by a specific artist, which is why he sometimes works under pressure.”
In reply to a question about his relations with Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, who is frequently targeted by Fahmy’s cartoons, Fahmy said that they were on very good terms because Nazif accepted his cartoons with an open mind.
Fahmy’s Hadouta Misrya (Egyptian Story) project includes 55 oil paintings of Egypt’s most prominent figures, which were commissioned by Minister of Investment Mahmoud Mohieddin. The paintings are portraits of intellectuals, poets, artists and officials who helped form a remarkable Egyptian character. Among them are Egypt’s second and third presidents Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat; the prominent 19th-century intellectual and scholar Rifaa al-Tahtawi; the first to call for women’s liberation in 20th-century Egypt Qasim Amin; the father of Egyptian modernised folk music Sayed Darwish; comedian Abdel Salam al-Nabulsi; the pioneer of the modern Arabic poetry Salah Abdel-Sabour; the most popular of divas Umm Kalthoum; and the Nobel Prize winner Ahmed Zewail.
Amr Fahmy has written various books, among them Taharoshat Ra’is (Presidential Harrassment) about former US President Bill Clinton; Nisf Daheka (Half Laughter), Masateel Walaken Zurafaa’ (Drunk but Funny), Bibi Netanyahu (Baby Netanyahu), and Al-Hithaa’ Al-Ta’esh (The Reckless Shoe) which deals with the shoe hurled by the Iraqi journalist Mukhtar al-Zaidi at George W. Bush.
Fahmy has designed the covers of more than 500 books, drawn countless magazine illustrations, and his cartoons have been published in national, regional and international newspapers.