Contemporary Arts

Samir Rafie

(b1926 – d 2004),




Samir Rafie is the pioneer of the Contemporary Egyptian Art Society, with Nada, Ra’ef and El-Gazzar, among others under the leadership of Hussein Youssef Amin in the 1940s.


He got his BA from the Faculty of Fine Art in 1948, post-graduate diploma in art education in 1950, and his PhD from France. He was a member of the Association of the Contemporary Art, which was established by Hussein Youssef Amin. He taught Decoration in Arts department in the Faculty of Fine Arts from 1950 till 1956 then art history in Algeria.


Rafie staged several private exhibitions in Cairo from 1945 to 1953 and was represented in many exhibitions organized by Contemporary Art Group from 1945 to 1953, exhibitions of the Egyptian surrealists from 40s till 70s from 1940 to 1990, and in 1953 participated in The Venice Biennale.


He was a productive painter who devoted himself to arts and criticism. He is the only Egyptian mentioned in The Benezit Dictionary of Artists. A friend of Picasso, Dali, Corbusier, Dubufet, Ozenfant, Leger and Giacometti. In a letter to Sevrini about Mr. Rafie, Picasso mentioned “There is Egyptian genuineness in this talented painter”. Giacometti also mentioned “Rafi is one of the pharaonic dynasty, adores the power and endurance in his materials which long live against time and emptiness”.


Rafie drew nude female models with uncombed hair and a dry appearance, and became known for his repeated treatments of seashells and his surrealistic treatments of waves. He joined the Art and Liberty society, established by George Henin in 1938 with Kamel El-Telmisany; his fellow-artists in the society were Ramses Younan and Fouad Kamel; He was influenced by Delvaux and Vallotton’s depictions of nudes with the sea, and had an affinity with Goya’s work, especially in his revolutionary painting on the May uprising. His imprint upon modern Egyptian art remains indelible.

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