Ragheb Ayad, is the most famous painter of Egypt, born in March 10, 1892 in Cairo. He is one of the leading painters of a generation of Egyptian artists commonly referred to as the pioneers, as they were the first to be trained in art institutions established according to European models.
After his primary studies, he joined the School of Fine Arts in Cairo in 1908 (the year of its creation by Prince Youssef Kamal).
Ayad made several trips to France and Italy, with his friend, the painter Youssef Kamel. In 1925 Ayad and Kamel they received two scholarships to study at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. in 1929, he returned to Egypt.
In 1930, Ayad was appointed head of the Decoration Department at the School of Applied Arts in Giza. In 1936, he married the Italian painter Emma Caly. In 1937, he became professor and director of the free section of the School of Fine Arts in Cairo, which offered evening classes to working students. From 1950 to 1955, he was appointed director of the Egyptian Museum of Modern Art.
Ayad broke with his academic training to create an original folk style that set him apart from his contemporaries. Throughout his career, he depicted scenes of rural and popular daily life, (such as markets, fields and popular cafes), He also painted religious scenes, exterior views of Coptic monasteries and traditional practices rooted in Egyptian culture (such as the Nubian ritual trance dance, or the ancient game of stick fighting practiced in Upper Egypt).
Ayad’s expressive style (in his oil paintings and in his sketches) is characterized by the liveliness of his textured lines, by the use of powerful colors and by the horizontal formats of his works.
During his life, Ayad organized numerous individual and collective exhibitions in Egypt and abroad. After his death in December 16, 1982, his works were exhibited at the Egyptian Museum of Modern Art, the Cairo Agricultural Museum, the Alexandria Museum of Fine Arts and others.
Image of title: “The Café in Aswan” (1933), source: encyclopedia.mathaf.org.qa