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Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Prominent visual art critic and journalist Kamal El-Goweily dies at age of 95

Kamal El-Goweily was dubbed the ‘sheikh of critics’ and was a pioneer of modern-day art criticism

Mohamed Fayez Gad , Sunday 17 Jan 2016
Kamal El-Goweily
Late visual-art critic and journalist Kamal El-Goweily. (Photo: Al-Ahram Al-Arabi)
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Prominent visual-art critic and journalist Kamal El-Goweily passed away last Thursday at the age of 95.

El-Goweily, who was dubbed the “sheikh of critics,” is considered to be a pioneer in modern-day art criticism. He is also among the founders of Egypt's art criticism movement that inspired visual art in the country for more than five decades.

Born on 15 June 1921, El-Goweily studied at the School of Fine Arts between 1942 and 1949. He was mentored by artist and critic Ahmed Sabry, and entered the field of art criticism to become one of its pioneers, unearthing many hidden talents.

At the beginning of his career, El-Goweily had to choose between undertaking a vocation in photography and venturing into art criticism. He chose the latter, sacrificing a promising career in photography. That said, Egypt's art scene won an interesting mind who founded and lay the basis for a proper art criticism movement.

The beginning of El-Goweily’s career as an art-critic was at Al-Ahram newspaper, where he focused on young talents, and opened the door for unknown artists, granting them the attention they deserved.

Many of today’s famous artists speak of how El-Goweily was the first person to shed light on their work, as opposed to other art critics who overlooked their talents.  

El-Goweily served in a number of posts in the visual arts sector, including as the president of the Egyptian Association for Visual Arts’ Critics which he founded in 1989 and led until his death. He also headed Cairo Atelier's gallery (Atelier du Caire).

Despite this rich vocation, El-Goweily suffered from an apparent lack of attention, and many demands to honour him never materialised.

As such, many of his students blamed his silence, and how he refrained from demanding an honour he rightfully deserved -- both as a pioneer of art criticism – and as one of the main contributors to Egypt's visual art movement.

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