Kamal was born in Egypt in 1923. In many ways, he
represents an important historic and artistic intersection of Middle
Eastern and Western cultures.
In the midst of the political
and cultural ferment of British occupied Egypt, early in his career,
Kamal joined a small group of young artists, who like himself, were full
of passionate, new ideas and dreams of painting in ways that were
completely new to what had come before them. They called themselves
Groupe de LŐArt Contemporain and created a stir throughout Egypt and in
the international community.
Groupe de LŐArt Contemporain,
Kamal, standing at left.
Among the first Moslem artists to exhibit in the
West, Kamal represented Egypt in International Biennales in Venice, Italy
(1950); Sao Paulo, Brazil (1952); and then exhibited in the Biennale
in Alexandra, Egypt (1955). The Museum of Modern Art in Cairo mounted
his one-man show in 1952.
In 1954, Kamal and eight of the Groupe de
LŐArt Contemporain were invited by two major French newspapers to exhibit
their work at a prominent gallery in Paris. Kamal was asked to
accompany the show to Paris and represent the artists. He chose to remain in Paris until
1956 when he came to the United States.
KamalŐs need to paint and express his artistic vision
continued on a daily basis even as he practiced a successful career as a
civil engineer and while he and his wife Maria raised their three children,
Saul, Mounira and Hisham.
In 1989, Kamal moved to the country home he and
his family built with their own hands on land in rural Pennsylvania. At age
79 Kamal added a new studio to the home and at age 82 he is still daily
drawn to the canvas. KamalŐs paintings and the figures in them are showered
with pathos, sensuality, and humor distilled through a complex
understanding of color and an easy use of bold forms.
Throughout KamalŐs life, he has witnessed turmoil
and conflict both cultural and political. His art, inevitably,
reflects those changes: from Egypt in the midst of revolution, to Paris in
the Ô50Ős, to America in the throes of a civil rights movement and the
Vietnam Era, September 11th, its aftermath, and on to Iraq and