Inji Efflatoun

  • Born 1924 in Cairo, Kingdom of Egypt
  • Died 1989 in Cairo, Egypt
Inji Efflatoun was a Marxist and feminist painter. After her parents’ divorce as a young child Efflatoun was raised by her mother, whose determination as a single working woman proved inspirational. Efflatoun was introduced to Marxism during her studies at the Lycée Français du Caire, joining a communist youth party in 1942. Her art tutor, Kamel al-Tilmisani (1915–1972), introduced her to the Surrealist group Art and Liberty. As a feminist activist, Efflatoun co-founded the Rabitat Fatayat at jami'a wa al ma' ahid (League of University and Institutes’ Young Women) in 1945, and in the late 1940s, she wrote political pamphlets linking class and gender oppression with imperialism. She stopped painting from 1946 to 1948. After visiting Luxor, Nubia and the Egyptian oases Efflatoun began to portray the Egyptian working class, particularly women’s struggles. She exhibited in the 1952 Venice Biennale and 1953 Bienal de São Paulo. In 1956, Efflatoun befriended the influential Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974). Efflatoun was imprisoned for her communist activities in 1959 under the rule of president Gamal Abdel Nasser. She began painting again in prison, depicting the difficult reality of prison life. After her release in 1963 Efflatoun’s painting style moved from social realism to lighter, more textured scenes of the working class.

Artworks by Inji Efflatoun in the exhibition