Samir Rafi

Representations of Egyptian daily life infused with surrealism and symbolism characterise the artwork of Samir Rafi, who emphatically captured the surrealist movement spearheaded by Ramsis Yunan and Georges Henein. Rafi was a prominent member of the Contemporary Art Group, an artist collective founded in 1946 that emphasised the relationship of art to society and popular culture and adapted modern forms and technique. The artist received critical acclaim during the 1950s from Aimé Azar, a teacher of aesthetics at Ain Shams University, who noted how Rafi accentuated the tragedy of modern life. In a famous work Les Gardes du Mokattam (Guardians of the Mokattam), Rafi represented figures assembled near the hills in Southern Cairo, a known gathering place for Sufis prior to the 1952 revolutionary coup.

After attending secondary school under the famous art teacher Hussayn Yusuf Amin, Rafi became a graduate of the School of Fine Arts in Cairo. He earned advanced degrees in art and pursued Ph.D studies in art history at the Sorbonne. Exhibiting widely and taking part in numerous international exhibitions during this period, Rafi later returned to Cairo to assume a role as an art professor at the School of Fine Arts and engage in art journalism.