Yesterday marked the arbaeen of the veteran sculptor, painter, and caricaturist Nagy Kamel who passed away on 18 February at 79. Arbaeen literally 40, is a Yesterday marked the arbaeen of the veteran sculptor, painter, and caricaturist Nagy Kamel who passed away on 18 February at 79. Arbaeen literally 40, is a date that denotes the passage of 40 days on the death of a person, and is honoured by Egyptians in an age-old tradition that goes back to ancient Egypt when it was linked to the mummification process. Egypt and her family of artists lost in Kamel a dedicated, gifted man whose creativity brightly graced several forms of art.
Kamel’s prolific artworks of contemporary Egypt conveyed the times, places, and rich heritage of the nation. Behind every touch of his brush and chisel was a wide background of visualisation and rooted values, his vision expressed in his own perspective. He managed to realise new aesthetics of contemporary art that melted into in his Egyptian legacy.
With his creative, multi-colourful skills over the more than 50 years he spent as a sculptor, painter and committed caricaturist, Kamel is considered a pioneer in all three fields. His artistic career was launched from the Luxor atelier, and his post-graduate studies in sculpture enriched his style, adding the sensitivity and romance he created with his much loved tools.
Kamel’s skill in using different materials: watercolour, ink and tinctures, produced various creations in caricature and sculpture. He is known for his portraits of journalists and politicians, and for the medallion of the Nubia Museum as well as the giant mosaic on the façade of the Rose al-Youssef building in Cairo. Another collection of works he called “Myself”, saying they were part and parcel of himself. He often used hot and cold colours in the same work of art.
Kamel’s creations clearly expressed elements of the Pharaonic, Coptic and Islamic intertwined; and throughout which the rhythms of the Egyptian community and landscape resounded. The Egyptian spirit was alive and vibrant in his artwork.
One specific aspect may not have been much-touted about Kamel, yet was especially heart-warming: that of the generous guidance he offered younger members of the artisitc career. He was lavish with his advice and help and, through him, many a young man and woman were able to follow surefootedly the right path to success in the art world.
Following his graduation from Cairo University’s faculty of fine arts in 1957, Kamel spent two years at the Luxor atelier studying Egyptian art. In 1959 he joined the Cairo weekly magazine Rose al-Youssef as a journalist cartoonist.
Kamel represented Egypt at many local and international exhibitions. His last was in 2011, when he showed in the 100 Years of Caricature exhibition in Cairo. He displayed his sculpture in contemporary art exhibitions in Yugoslavia in 1966; at an exhibition of African art in Accra in 1967, and at the 7th round of the Alexandria Biennale in 1968. Kamel represented Egypt at the fukaha(humour) conference in Hyderabad, India, in 1985, and at an exhibition in Italy, 1997.
Kamel received several prizes and medals. His works hang in the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art at Al-Ahram, at the Safir Hotel in Hurghada and as private acquisitions in Egypt, Canada, the United States, Germany, Lebanon and Italy.
As well as working for Rose al-Youssef, he became a caricaturist for Dar al-Hilal in 1956 and also worked for Al-Massa##, and, since 1980 Al-Ahram. He also contributed to several books and magazines.
During the last year, Kamel generously contributed a weekly cartoon to www.wataninet.com , the daily online paper of Watani. He will be sorely missed at this journal as well as all others he enriched with his splendid creations.
31 March 2013