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. 


  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.

  2. TELE-TALENT SHOWS,and since as early as 1970 in Lebanon produced hundreds of new talents mostly in SINGING dept.,Since then thousands of others from all over the Arab world via IDOL/Talent/Voice shows joined in,all hopeful to become Superstars from dusk to dawn time limit?/like/ Lady UMM KALTHOUM/WARDA/FAYZA AHMAD/ Mr.WADIH SAFFI/FARID AL ATTRASH? by just appearing in such progs.,forgetting that whatever comes easy.. goes easy as well?!,some might make it in the finals and even get their own song or two if lucky,as hits, for sometime..15 minutes fame,as Late Mr.ANDY WARHOL predicted? and then BOTH/song+singer/sink into Oblivion..unfortunately?!Ignoring that> REAL & LEGITIMATE talent(s) never follow-s suit/ Example:for instance the 1973-4 STUDIO EL FANN, directed by Mr.SIMON ASSMAR for Tele-LIBAN Canal-7 produced many BIG names,many still to this day..doing OK !! such as Mrs MAGDA EL ROUMI/Mr.WALID TAWFIQ/Late Ms.MONA MAARASHLI,we lost HER recently very unfortunately!!..Mr.GHASSAN SALIBA to name few...all became SUPERSTARS without shedding TEARS then,but for the last 25 years Weeping/Crying became a TREND or essential part in such shows..some..caused by sudden/unexpected win, that^s understandable,others Just to gain sympathy of->the Judges & audiences alike??..i am sure the winners of 1974 St.-El FANN shed tears in private,and thanked GOD for what >HE>blessed them..with!!..and they proved over the following years that THEY really did worth that Success and fairly deserved it!!..In 1964 Late/GREAT Madam SOUAD HOUSSNI s movie >SAGHIRA AAL HOBB(Too young for love)as Maspiro Egyptian T.V was looking for a child talent for kids* show in that film..but SHE was a woman in HER mid 20s in it,disguised as a 12 y.old girl to make HER way to win,fooling the handsome judge/Late actor Mr.RUSHDI the end the truth came out,but was too late as SHE achieved HER success,because SHE had confidence in Herself to the end...When Late PEROUZ ARTIN KALFAYAN became silver screen^s child prodigy with YASMINE movie,HER mentor was Mr.ANWAR WAGDI,as there was no T.Vs in 1940s or competitions as such/HER GOD given gift and HIS patience and devotion to create a STAR,gave its long awaited fruit,Every good parent wants the best for their child->(ren)the push forward is fine,but pushing hard can make ANYONE to fall on his/her head..but moral injury is much prolonged than a physical scars or is a gamble,but losers in such contests they don^t just gamble with their time/efforts..but their ambitions & dreams, something will effect their journeys in life to the end..I wish every DREAMER all the success in this world in everything he/she does, or wants to do, but not blindfolded, on contrary with eyes wide opened,but not full of tears, due to peeled onion in their pockets,you know what i mean?? demanding others* sympathies..Sometimes silence and coolness + believing in one^s self..speak volumes?? Good luck all/Is.Barsoumian/London

  3. de^r..^nonymous/^^g^r^)??



  4. Old Fart /in Arabic = ABU DA'A ADEEMA ..regards From:Is-hak Barsoumian /London. That's nearest you can get, translated?!!


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