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Inji Efflatoun

(1924 - 1989) Born in Cairo in 1924, Efflatoun began painting during her younger years at school with the encouragement of her parents. Born into what she described as semi-feudal and bourgeois family, she was taught by her private art tutor, Kamel Al-Timisani, a leader in Egyptian surrealist collective called the Art and Freedom Group. Kamel introduced her to surrealist and cubist aesthetics as well as the life and struggles of the Egyptian peasants from which she drew inspiration for her paintings. This led people to astonishment as to why a girl from a rich family was so tormented as depicted in her paintings. She stopped painting from 1946 to 1948, considering that what she was painting no longer corresponded to her feelings. Her interest was later renewed after visiting Luxor, Nubia, and the Egyptian oases. During these trips, she had the opportunity to "penetrate the houses and sketch men and women at work”. She studied for a year with the Egyptian-born Swiss artist Margo Veillon. During this period, she made individual exhibits in Cairo and Alexandria and showed at the Venice Biennale in 1952 and the São Paulo Art Biennial in 1956. In 1956 she became friend with and was later influenced by the Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros. She was able to continue painting during her imprisonment. Her early prison paintings are portraits, while the later are landscapes. In the years after her liberation, she exhibited in Rome and Paris in 1967, Dresden, East Berlin, Warsaw and Moscow in 1970, Sofia in 1974, Prague in 1975, New Delhi in 1979. Her paintings are filled with "lively brushstrokes of intense color" reminding some observers of Van Gogh or Bonnard. Her art of later years is characterised by an increasing use of large white spaces around her forms. A collection of her works is displayed at the Amir Taz Palace in Cairo.