Egyptian Chronicles: Farewell Gamal Kotb , Egypt's top Book cover artist

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Farewell Gamal Kotb , Egypt's top Book cover artist

Egypt lost last Sunday one of its most talented as well underrated painters and artists , Gamal Kotb.
The 1930-born painter passed away last Sunday in Cairo quietly as only his fans and students from artists mourn him.

Gamal Kotb
Gamal Kotb in a photo that goes back to 2010
Despite as a painter he may not be famous I think like other Egyptian artists in the 20th century , Gamal Kotb can be or actually is Egypt's top book cover artist.
Originally from Gharbia , Gamal Kotb graduated from the faculty of arts in Cairo.
He joined Dar El-Hilal press institution when it was still a great publishing house.
His name as an illustrator began to become famous in Egyptian press the 1960s thanks to Dar El-Hilal's publications.
Gamal Kotb's real fame came as the cover artist of Naguib Mahfouz's novels as well other prominent writers and novelists like Ihsan Abdel Quddous since the 1960s thanks to publisher Abdel Hameed Gouda El-Sahar.
Yet, his name has become a synonym to Mahfouz's books cover artist thanks to his beautiful retro romantic illustrations.
A collection of Naguib Mahfouz's novels and their original covers by  Gamal Kotb
A collection of Naguib Mahfouz's novels and their original covers by
Gamal Kotb 
His style was a mix of noir and pulp fiction , very distinguished that you recognize it without reading his signature.

Another batch of famous Mahfouz's novels covers by Kotb
Another batch of famous Mahfouz's novels covers by Kotb 

I am a huge fan of Kotb's book covers.
I am proud that I own books he illustrated their covers.
Gamal Kotb's book cover art "Zeinab"
Mohamed Hussein Heikal's "Zeinab" cover
in 1996
by Gamal Kotb
Gamal Kotb's book cover art "Tortured of the earth"
Taha Hussein's "Tortured of the earth" cover
in 1996 by Gamal Kotb 
Gamal Kotb's book cover art " An incident of honor"
Youssef Idris' "Incident of honor" book cover
by Kotb in 1997
Gamal Kotb's book cover art "The call of the unknown"
Mahmoud Taymour's " The call of the unknown"
book cover in 1997
Gamal Kotb's book cover art "Um Hashem's lanterns"
Yahia Haqqai's "Um Hashem's lantern" book
cover in 1997
The man did lie that his work entered almost every Egyptian house in the past 50 years.
Millions of houses got his work in their libraries.
A collection of Ihsan Abdel Qudduos' romantic novels cover art by Kotb
A collection of Ihsan Abdel Qudduos' romantic novels cover art by Kotb
still, the man was underrated as a Painter. Recently , I knew he had paintings and exhibits but unfortunately our press in Egypt limited him in the role of Book cover artist.
According to his biography , one of his paintings are among Queen Elizabeth's private collection. I would like to see that
Needless to say , he became a legendary book cover artist but still he was and is underrated.
I have been searching for days for his paintings and I could not find anything except two paintings.
A painting by Gamal Kotb
A painting by Gamal Kotb 
A painting by Gamal Kotb
A painting by Gamal Kotb 
Aside, his work as a painter and book cover artist , Kotb was a professor in the Arts academy in Cairo.
Gamal Kotb's daughter is Dr. Heba Kotb , the famous sexologist by the way.
May he rest in peace , Gamal Kotb as his art is still alive in Egypt thanks to his amazing book covers. 
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  1. SOME BOOK COLLECTORS BUY A BOOK TO ENRICH their home libraries and make it look jammed also to impress visitors,others buy to read it ,and many others because they were amazed & loved its cover,..Late and always will stay GREAT>> covers designer Mr.GAMAL KOTB.. gathered all these three intentional aspects on every book or even magazine covers he worked on over half a century or more, and added to them..>>Beauty/quality/and magic colours to our collections that he turned it into some kind of ART-GALLERY, as did his colleagues, such as Late /great painter and multi-talented artist Mr.HUSSEIN BIKAR and YOUSSEF FRANCISE..and EFFAT HUSSEIN??...In my school years in 1963/4/5 we used to barrow books to read at home,once i barrowed a book called AL LAKITTA,or The STREET WISE,By Great AUTHOR Mr.ABDEL HALIM ABDALLAH,and if my memory serves me right it s cover was by Mr.GAMAL KOTB??maybe his cover design made me interested or attracted an in this book..which automatically turned me into an addict reader of other Mr.Abdelhalim Abd ALLAH s great romances + MANY OTHER AUTHORS,TOO!...Also once( 3 weeks ago )i wrote on Egyptian Chronicles blog titled///SEEN IN CAIRO:Old Magazine Shop///where i quoted about our neighbour^s small book shop called Maktabat AL TAAWON / Saad Street/Khandak el Ghamik/BEIRUT-LEBANON,owned by Mr.NAZMI ALA and Sons...there too the shelves were cramped with all Egyptian Great Authors name it ,,they^ve got it then..,Beirut roads and book stores were flooded with those books and great art-works of their covers by such great painters/designers...even some SAMIR weekly children s magazine covers ,now & then carried HIS>>Mr.Gamal Kotb>signiature? especially the one i still clearly remember was of President Gamal Adbdel NASSERS portrait...also>>Al MUSSAWWAR weekly covers ,also in it Great Author/Poet Mr.SALEH GAWDAT s weekly novel>> BINT AFANDINA designs too?? ..some of Mr.KOTB drawings were so realistic that confused US for they looked just like a photo taken by a Camera, than a drawing made by a paint Brush and (GUACHE water/oil) colors by such a Genius Artist?....U.S.A had its great covers arist Mr.NORMAN ROCKWELL...whom drawn most of Satutrday night POST weekly magazine in mid 1940-end of 1950 Also books covers...But VERY fortunately The Arab World had Mr.GAMAL KOTB..who^s masterpieces will always be remembered as great works of art that impressed readers for over 5/6 decades ...,there was a saying:>>DO NOT JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER, but i humbly say>>A CROWN WITHOUT GEM STONES,IS JUST>>A CORONET?! as a novel awakens your IMAGINATION ,a great & clever book cover turns it into a very INTRIGUING one!!..Regards from Londin/Is-Hak Barsoumian.


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