Rafi was professor in the Department of Decorative Arts from 1950 to
1956 at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo.
He held several leadership positions in Algeria and taught art history
In 1951, the Belgian Critic Count War Scott wrote a book about his work;
the first book at that time about an Egyptian artist. Critic Samir Gharib
published the book “The Impossible Migration” about the artist Samir
Rafi in 1999. Rafi wrote a series of artistic articles, “Memoirs of an
Egyptian Artist in Paris,” that were published in Al-Hilal magazine,
respectively, in 1969.
The late artist is considered one of the pioneers of Egyptian surrealism
in the 40s and is credited with the establishment of the Egyptian
contemporary art movement.
He left for Paris in 1954 to study art history at the Sorbonne University,
and since his self-imposed exile, managed to return to Egypt for one
month only in 1964. Tragedy struck Rafi in 1965 in Algeria, when he
was arrested following a coup d’etat. Not allowing this to hinder his
artistic passion, he traveled yet again in the early seventies heading to
Paris to complete a career consisting of painting and sculpture, which
was characterized by the diversity of materials and embodied the
tragedy of alienation and homesickness to the point that some critics
described him as the pioneer of Egyptian popular surrealism.
He was at the forefront of the vanguard that guided the youth’s
thoughts and feelings in the years of anger and rebellion, and the
overwhelming desire for change, after the Second World War and until
His work is considered classics of modern Egyptian art. He influenced
the next movement of a generation of well-known pioneers such as
Saeed, Nagy, Kamel and Ayyad. His paintings, which he created in his
youth since the age of thirty-five, are still timeless, attract our attention
and arouse our admiration, our thoughts and our imaginations … and
touch our souls with something eternal.