Hussein Bicar (1913-2002), was born in Alexandria 1912, yet of Turkish origin. He is one of the foremost Egyptian portrait painters. His career, covered numeral of related line of work, notably caricature, education, journalism and art criticism.
Bicar graduated from the Fine Arts College in 1933. He joined the newspaper Akhbar Al-Yom in 1945, doing drawings frequently accompanied by his own poetry. He was the vital cartoonist for the children’s magazine Al-Sinbad, which was first published in January 1952.
As a genre painter, Hussein Bicar was much inspired by southern Egypt, be it the countryside of Qena or the landscapes of Nubia. He was taken by the rural lifestyles he encountered in these warm, earthy regions, and entranced by the rich Pharaonic history that surfaced there. In accord with the teachings of the nationalist artist Mahmoud Moukhtar, Bicar believed in a revival of Egyptian cultural heritage that, while celebratory, left room for the importance of cross-cultural interaction. Amongst his most celebrated oil paintings were those depicting harvesting, especially ones produced during the 80s and 90s. He portrayed female peasants with graceful figures and placid faces, swaying through fields of crops or pulling water from the Nile in terracotta jars. Enchanted by the movement of their bodies in their long, traditional abayas, he depicted them almost theatrically, as stage dancers before perfectly orchestrated backgrounds of hazy green landscapes or Nubian architecture. Characterized by simple fluid lines and sculptural geometric shapes, Bicar’s work achieved a masterful balance between stylized figuration and formal abstraction in a calm, somber palette.
Bicar won the State Merit Award in 1978, the Merit Medal in 1980 as well as the Mubarak award in 2000. Despite his numerous contributions to Egyptian society as well as being the founder of Helwan Wax Museum, he died in November 2000 without having access to an Egyptian identity card, because of his beliefs in the Bahá’í Faith.