Injy Efflatoun

Injy Efflatoun (1924-1989) was an Egyptian painter and a fervent political activist. She was a “leading spokesman for the Marxist-progressive-nationalist-feminist in the late 1940s and 1950s”, as well as a “pioneer of modern Egyptian art” and “one of the important Egyptian visual artists”. After graduating from Fouad I University in Cairo in 1945, she apprenticed with the painter Kamel Telmisany.

Her paintings seem to be influenced by the Impressionists, especially Neo-Impressionism. Her subjects have always been centered on the Egyptian countryside, expressing the harvest seasons, the reaping of corn, seeds, cotton and fruits in the fields, and is famous for the sunlight that drenches her pictures. However, in the mid-1950s, her paintings reflected the lonely suffering of the prison inmate, that have stayed in the minds of many viewers, due to the power of their expressiveness and their menacing, dark colors.

Her first solo exhibition was launched in 1952. 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, US in 1988 as well as the Sao Paolo Biennale. Her paintings are filled with “lively brushstrokes of intense color” reminding some observers of Van Gogh or Bonnard. Her art of later years is characterized 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.

Efflatoun achieved many award such as the French Prestigious Order from the French Ministry of Culture in 1985 and 1986 and the Top Prize for landscape in 1959 during an exhibition organized by the Ministry of Culture.

While Inji Efflatoun’s life was marked by phases of colour and agony, her paintings vibrate with the spirit of revolution. In 1964, the French artist Jean Lucrat summed up Efflatoun’s impetus as follows: “She does not listen except to the Egyptian voice which is her profound heritage. That sound is that of the desert, the Nile, and the horizon of her burning soul.” Like many artist whose lives intersected with revolutionary times, Efflatoun’s art is inseparable from the context within and out of which it emerged. Mentored by the expressionist painter Kamel El Telmasany, a protagonist in the surrealist-inflected Art and Liberty group, Efflatoun joined a generation of artist whose creativity merged with the swelling tides of anti-fascist and communist movements in Egypt.(56th Venice Biennale: All the World’s Futures, 2015)