DUBAI: Inji Aflatoun, one of Egypt’s best-known painters and a leading feminist, was honored today with a Google Doodle to celebrate what would have been her 95th birthday.
The doodle features Aflatoun in front of her canvas of surrealist and cubist paintings, which led critics to call her a “pioneer of modern Egyptian art,” according to Google’s description of the creative talent.
Aflatoun was born in Cairo in 1924 to a Muslim family that she described was “semi-feudal and bourgeois” — her father, Hazzan, was an entomologist who founded the entomology department of Cairo University aside from being the dean of the science faulty; her mother Salha, meanwhile, was a French-trained dress-designer who served in the women’s committee of the Egyptian Red Crescent Society.
Under the mentorship of her private art tutor, Kamel Al-Timisani, Aflatoun was introduced to surrealist and cubist aesthetics.
Aflatoun was also drawn into the feminist movement, joining Iskra – a Communist youth party – in 1942, and becoming a founding member of the League of University and Institutes’ Young Women in 1945 and representing the league during the same year at the first conference of Women’s International Democratic Federation in Paris.
She also wrote two political pamphlets — “Eighty Million Women with Us” in 1948 and “We Egyptian Women” in 1949 — which heavily attacked class and gender oppression, mainly because of British rule.
She was arrested and imprisoned by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s government during a round-up of communists in the mid-50s, and since her release in 1963 devoted her time to painting.
Aflatoun died on April 17, 1989, just a day after celebrating her 65th birthday.