I recently posted about Robert Hay’s engravings of Cairo, While cleaning out some of my own files, I came across a calendar from 1995 – “Simple People from Egypt” – that had been given to me by a friend and colleague, Elhamy Naguib, whom I met in Cairo while working on a translation project.
I have always loved these images, and now that digitization and sharing is so easy, I thought it time to share with others.
Elhamy worked hard to develop his talent, and has done a wonderful job in an impressionistic way of rendering the nature of Egyptian street scenes. I especially love the faces. They capture the good-hearted nature of the people of Egypt, who – like many of the people of the Middle East – illuminate their country and are not represented by the fanatical, misguided loons who are getting so much media attention these days.
Having spent a fair amount of time in Cairo and other places around the Arabic-speaking world, these images speak to me; somewhere in the world, the originals of these paintings exist, it is to be hoped. I would be honored to have any one of them hanging on my wall.
All images copyright ©1994-2015 Graffiti, designed by Elhamy Naguib
Coming home from school as a child, I passed by a man and his wife on a street corner by my parents’ house. They were selling water cress, radishes, parsley and dill in small quantities. Their simple inventory stayed practically the same for over thirty years, until they died one after the other. My attitude has changed from irritation at their complacency to an admiration of their contentment and serenity.
In the rat race of the big city, I looked for people like them on the streets and asked myself the same question over and over again: “How does one achieve such serenity?” My feelings for them are a mixture of love, sympathy, and envy. In these paintings, I pay tribute to the couple mentioned above and to others like them. I cherish all the lessons they teach me.
-Elhamy Naguib, 1994
Clay Water Pots
As Elhamy cherished the memories of the people he encountered in his life, so I cherish my memory of him. These beautiful paintings serve to remind me that my own memories of Egypt are ones of peace and beauty.
The Old Wolf has spoken.