Artists we lost in 2011

Ahram Online, Saturday 31 Dec 2011

2011 was not easy on the arts scene. Many renowned artists, painters, filmmakers, actors and singers passed away, many of them too young


28 January 2011

Ziad Bakir, age 37 

Graphic designer, Bakir was best known for his remarkable work in the design office of the Cairo Opera House, where he was supervising a team of graphic designers, working on all printed material related to the opera.

The death of Ziad Bakir, one of the martyrs of the January Revolution, has devastated his family, friends and many in the art field. He is remembered as an extremely creative, profound and at the same time modest artist. Bakir, died either on 28 January or shortly after. Following his disapearance on 28 January, his family spent over 40 days trying to locate him. His funeral took place on Sunday, 13 March

Anyone knowing Ziad Bakir, even for a few minutes, consider themselves lucky to have touched his world. To Bakir’s family, friends, coworkers, colleagues, to the followers of his art, the loss is beyond description, and also comprehension. “Ziad left home wearing new clothes he bought a day earlier. He left to the heavens wearing them,” Mirette Bakir, Ziad’s sister said.

28 January 2011

Ahmed Bassiouny, age 33 

Much of his art was related to sound, digital equipment and lighting. Bassiouny acquired his master’s degree in the creative potential of digital sound art and was working on his PhD thesis, the Visual Aspect of Open Source Programming, in relation to the concepts of digital art, and he was considered one of the most important artists on the contemporary art scene in Egypt.

The beauty of Bassiouny’s spirit emanates from his smile, which brightens almost every picture of him.

Bassiouny, one of the many martyrs of the Egyptian revolution, was an artist, a musician, a son, a husband, a father to two very young children, and a tutor.

He died tragically on 28 January, killed by a sniper’s bullet. His body was also crushed under a police vehicle.

3 March 2011

Salah Marei, age 63

A truly inspiring and beautiful spirit, Salah Marei left a great impact on the Egyptian screen and on everyone who worked with him. Having worked in around 30 feature films, Marei signed off his career with the independent film In the Last Days of the City by Tamer El-Saeed, which he had volunteered to help with. He was also a professor in the High Institute of Cinema, teaching the history of architecture and art direction and inspiring many students.

“You would never notice him when you entered a room,” Mohamed Hassane commented. “He would be standing alone, perhaps lost in thought, and would never boast about his knowledge or abilities.”

7 August 2011

Hassan El-Asmar, age 52

Hassan El-Asmar, one of Egypt's most famous pop stars, gained his fame during the 1980s with his Egyptian pop culture music and songs.

El-Asmar was born in Abbassiya, Cairo, on 21 October 1959. His family roots go back to the governorate of Qena in Upper Egypt. El-Asmar appeared in many films in the 1980s and 1990s. His famous songs include Tawahan (Disperse), Ketab Hayati Ya Ein (My Book of Life) and Taam El-Ayam (The Taste of the Days).

8 August 2011

Hind Rostom, age 82  

One of the most renowned Egyptian actresses, her first role was in Azhaar Wa Ashwak (Flowers and Thorns) when she was 16. She gave remarkable performances in many Egyptian movies and worked with the most renowned Egyptian directors. Rostom decided to retire in 1979 having acted in over 60 movies. It was at the peak of her career that she stepped away from the limelight. It was a surprising decision, but she never regretted it.

Rostom was referred to as the “Queen of Seduction,” a term she disliked. She objected to being confined to one persona, when she had taken on a diverse variety of roles and genres, ranging from comedy to melodrama, action and romance.

On-screen, Rostom was bold and loud, a bit of a mischief-maker, and the life of the party. However, Rostom was completely different off-screen. “She was very quiet, and avoided trouble at all costs,” Passant Reda, Rostom’s daughter reveals. “She didn’t like to go out. She could stay home for up to three months, enjoying the quiet life.”

14 August 2011

Talaat Zein, age 56  

Zein rose to prominence as a singer in the 1970s before becoming a well known actor in the late 1990s.

Talaat Zein is not only remembered as a great voice and an actor in a handful of Egyptian movies. His love for people and friendships developed along his life path are alive in hundreds of people who knew him.

“Life was not always easy for Zein, but he was a great fighter. He paved his own way to success and while doing so, he always remained humble. His contagious laughter, his sense of humour and the endless beautiful stories he kept telling pulled people closer to him. Throughout his years, he kept all his relations with people warm and vibrant and he will be fondly remembered by many.”

22 August 2011

Kamal El-Shennawy, age 90

Egyptian Kamal El-Shennawy acted in more than 200 films and television series, directed one film and produced five films. He also wrote the screenplay for the film Wadaa Fil Fagr (Goodbye at Dawn).

Born on 26 December 1921 in Mansoura, Egypt, El-Shennawy started with an artistic leaning towards the visual arts. He held exhibitions and worked as an art teacher for two years, but turned to acting in 1947 with the film Ghany Harb (Riches of War).

Some of his important films include Al-Less Wal Kelab (The Thief and the Dogs), which is based on a novel by Naguib Mahfouz; the political thriller, Al-Hareb (The Fugitive) written by Raafat El Meehy; Al-Karnak, also based on a novel by Naguib Mahfouz and Al-Ragol Alazy Faqad Zeloh (The Man Who Lost His Shadow).

1 October 2011

Mohamed Hamed Eweis, age 92

Egyptian painter and art professor at the Fine Art College in Alexandria.

Born in a small village near Beni Suef, Eweis began his education in a Quranic school and then moved to a school in Beni Suef. As a child he would make clay models of animals from Nile mud and visit local plasterers' workshops.

He enrolled in the Fine Arts Academy's painting department, despite his fathers dream that Eweis proceed to the Police Academy. In the Fine Arts Academy, Eweis's professors included renowned artists Ahmed Sabry, Hossam Bikar and Youssef Kamel.

Eweis soon rose to prominence and his technique was praised by masters such as Mahmoud Said. He became one of the core modern artists in Egypt and his works were exhibited in numerous exhibitions in Egypt and abroad. In 2000, he was awarded the State Prize and in 2005, the Mubarak Prize for Arts.

16 October 2011

Omar El-Hariri, age 86

The celebrated Egyptian actor Omar El-Hariri spent nearly 60 years in theatre and television, and was also renowned for his participation in more than 100 films including: ‎Wesada El-Khaleya (Abandoned Pillow); Sukkar Hanim (Dame Sukkar); El-Nasser Salah El-Din (Saladin); El-Khaena (The Traitor);  and Nahr El-Hob (River of ‎Love). His only leading role, however, was in the film Akhla min Einy (More Precious than My Eyes), ‎written and directed by Ezzeddine Zulfiqar in 1955.‎

Throughout the course of his career, El-Hariri won numerous awards for his film work, culminating in a recognition award at the 2003 Egyptian Film Festival. Shortly afterward, prominent film critic Zeinab Aziz wrote a biography of the film actor entitled Omar El-Hariri: Kaos Kozah (Omar Hariri: Rainbow).

21 October 2011

Ahmed Ibrahim Hegazy, age 75

Hegazy was one of the leading Egyptian political cartoonists from the late fifties until the mid-eighties, when, in frustration at deteriorating conditions in the country, he retired and returned to his native village of Tanta to draw children’s cartoons.

His cartoons were simple, focused on the contradictions of everyday life, and portrayed reality without too much exaggeration. In his book Rogak Al Selah (The Comrades of the Weapon), Bahgat Osman wrote that Hegazy’s works are the definition of ultimate simplicity in idea and style.  

His works were the subject of many academic studies and he is considered one of the most important Egyptian cartoonists of his era.

26 November 2011

Amer Mounib, age 40

Egyptian singer, Mounib recorded 13 albums including Wayak (With You), Hob El-Omr (The Love of my Life), Hazy men El-Sama (I'm very lucky). He also starred in films such as Sehr El-Oyoun (Charming Eyes), Kimo w Antimo (Kimo and his buddy), Al-Ghawas (The Diver), Kamel Al-Awsaf (She is Perfect).

29 November 2011

Ramadan Khater, age 48 

One of its greatest and inimitable storytellers, Khater was also an actor.

He appeared in various plays, including Dayer Dayer (Going Around in Circles), Ghazir Al-Layl (Ample Night), Rosasa Fil Qalb (Bullet in the Heart), Lenin Al-Ramli's Bel Arabi Al-Fasih (In Plain Arabic), Lenin Al-Ramli's Al-Hadethah Al-Magnuna (Crazy Accident), Ghazl Al-Aamar (Spinning of Age), Elli Yeish (To Live Long), Holm Laylat Seif (Summer Night Dream), and Al-Dafira Al-Shamsiya (Sun Braids).

Khater appeared in a dozen films, including Ahmad Abdallah's Heliopolis and Khalid Yousef's Hina Maysara (Till It Gets Better). In Ibrahim Al-Battut's Ein Shams, Khater was able to use his skills to great effect.

Never one to put fame and fortune before simple dedication to art, Khater will continue to inspire those who knew him closely.

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