Egyptian Caricatures

Egyptian Caricatures
The art of caricature goes back to the day of Leonardo da
Vinci and artists of the 18th century who also used to criticize
social and political matters by drawing exaggerated portrayal of public figures
using their pens and
brushes. Caricatures and cartoons grew up since then
and matured to have more effects and stronger receptions than words in columns
and articles in big publications. Let’s not forget the recent terrorist attacks
of the French satirical Charlie Hebdo showing the power of cartoon and its
One of the Egyptian cartoonists who showed new creativity
not only in cartoons but also in the comics and storytelling is Yasser Hussein
who left Egypt in 2004 to work in Kuwait in order to seek more freedom and better
financial stability. However, Hussein was never disconnected from the
continuous changes in the Egyptian society which he retraced with his colorful
drawings and funny cartoons. Making use of classic tools like pencils and
watercolors, Hussein also injected 2D and 3D feelings to his drawing by using
tablet technologies and photoshop softwares.
Born 1972, caricature artist Yasser Hussein started to draw when
he was ten years old. He was influenced like many Eyptian kids by reading the
Egyptian editions of Mickey and Tintin magazines that used to be popular in the
1970s amongst children. Also, through a friend of his father, artist Sayed
Badawy in al-Ahram organization, Hussein was first introduced to the term
“caricature”. When Badawy took
a glance at my drawings , he told my father that the quality of my lines exceeded
the regular drawings made by
at that age”, remembered Hussein. “It was the first time, I heard that I am actually
drawing caricatures and not just some childish hobbies”. Badawy urged Hussein
to its follow the works by artists of that like Salah Jahin in al-Ahram and
Mostapha Hussein in al-Akhbar to learn and to seek inspirations. “While growing
up, I continued to draw and get guidance from Badawy and other artists until I
enrolled in the Fine Arts Department of the Faculty of Specific Education”. In
1993, Hussein was nineteen years old when the specialized magazine Caricature,
headed by its chief editor Mostafa Hussein, started to appear on the
newsstands. “I was recommended by my professors to join its artists while also
starting to contribute in many other publications like the Egyptian Sudanese magazine
Ikhaa, al-Nabaa newspaper, al-Ahram’s Friday supplement. I also
drew portrait of celebrity interviewees in the sports newspaper al-Kora wee
However, Yasser Hussein rarely drew politically driven caricatures until
the revolution of January 25. “I always believed that, in Egypt, all our social
problems are related to politics”, revealed Hussein. “ But before the
revolution, we, as cartoon artists, couldn’t caricaturize the president or the
prime minister to a certain extent and so caricature was some kind of tamed at
that time”. Hussein, who has the same name as late artist Mostapha Hussein but
without striking any familial relationship, confesses that he was influenced by
Mostapha Hussein caricatures and characters that used to appear on a daily
basis on the last page of Al-Akhbar newspaper. “Lot of people when seeing my
woks thought that I was Mostapha Hussein’s son”, laughed Yasser who knew the
late artist when he used to contribute to Caricature Magazine. “During my early
beginnings, some people claimed that I try to copy Mostapha Hussein’s but I
think it is a regular accusation for debuting artists”.  
The other challenge for caricature artists that, unlike other types of
visual arts and their practitioners, that their artworks cannot sell in
exhibitions like paintings or drawings always do.  “In my early beginnings, I used to join group
exhibitions in Egypt but now I succeeded to make a solo exhibition in Cairo
before I moved to Kuwait”, said Hussein. “The best thing that can happen to
caricatures after being published in magazines and newspapers is have them
collected inside one book after some solo exhibitions”. Hussein effectively
published his first book in 2010 “Like Old Sayings” gathering a handful of his
drawings and cartoons of twenty years. The book was on bookstands during a solo
exhibition by the same name in Cairo as well. Last January, Hussein issued his
newest book Hawadity “My Own Tales” in which he adapted incidents that
happened to him into 24 stories using words and illustrations. “I think this
book is my passage from being a cartoonist into becoming a satirist”, comments
Yasser who has another dream project: to create an academic book that guides
young talents into finding their way to become cartoonist and illustrators like
Yasser Hussein’s works can be found on his Facebook

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Sherif M. Awad
Sherif M. Awad
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