Fathi Afifi

Cairo's crowded streets and neighbourhoods are brilliantly portrayed in large-scale paintings of distinguished artist Fathi Afifi, who strives to expose the pulse of everyday Cairene life.

Afifi's paintings capture the movement of the masses of people, or shaab, who travel through Cairo's congested streets, sidewalks, train stations, factories and coffee shops. Afifi is himself a product of the culture that he illustrates in this work; he was born in 1950 in the Sayeda Zeinab quarter of Cairo. He is informed by this immensely crowded low-to-mid income district, home to a mosque dedicated and named after the granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH).

Afifi seeks to reflect reality rather than romanticise Cairo, home to more than 17 million people, most of whom are struggling financially. His paintings reflect how Egyptians’ daily routine has become mechanical and impersonal. Bold brush strokes, textured canvas and sketch-like technique convey the grittiness of streets and the transience of the perpetual movement of people and machines. Monotonous blank faces show how masses can share little connection to their routine and those around them.

A member of a number of local art associations, Afifi has held exhibitions in Cairo, Austria, Cuba and Mexico.