Today’s Google Doodle celebrates Egyptian painter Inji Aflatoun
- Inji Aflatoun is one of Egypt’s best-known painters
- She started a group that campaigned heavily for gender equality
- Her surrealist and highly politicized works were shown all around the world
- Today would be her 95th birthday
Another day, another Google Doodle – but this one celebrates a feminism painter who pushed the boundaries of what it means to be Egyptian – Inji Aflatoun.
The doodle marks the Egyptian painter’s 95th birthday, and showcases Aflatoun in front of her canvas alongside noteworthy works in her distinct painting style behind her.
For those unaware, Inji Aflatoun was born back in 1924, to a wealthy family who lived in Cairo’s French-speaking aristocracy. Her mother became her first example of feminism, after opening Cairo’s first-ever tailoring shop that was run and owned by a woman. Aflatoun received strict catholic education, before eventually moving to French Lychee in Cairo (where she became well-versed in Marxism).
She began painting at an early age – just 15-years-old – but her work was quickly noticed. She took clases with Kamel el-Telmissany – one of Egypt’s best-known representatives of Egyptian surrealism. It was el-Telmissany who would introduce Aflatoun to ‘Art et Liberte’ or the ‘Art and Freedom’ movement. The movement involved a group or artists and intellectuals of communist orientation, who used surrealism as an outlet to protest the imperialist government.
Aflatoun was one of the first women to study in the art department of the University of Cairo – and in 1945 took part in the creation of the ‘ligue des jeunes femmes des universities et des institutes’ (the League of young women in universities and institutes), which promoted left-wing anti-colonialist politics. The group also campaigned heavily for gender equality.
The painter also worked briefly as a teacher and a journalist, where she published several manifestos calling for the end of the imperial government. Herself – along with a small group of women intellectuals and militants – continued to participate in a number of activities both in Egypt and Europe to help bolster women’s rights and peace.
After her arrest in 1959 - by Gamal Abdel Nasser – Aflatoun dedicated herself to painting and art. Her works were shown in Egypt and Europe, and quickly became a well-respected figure in the art world.