Plastic artist Ghada Wali has been accused of plagiarizing her designs for her paintings used in the Girls’ College metro station in Cairo, leading to outrage across social media.
The incident dates back to Saturday, when the Russian painter Georgy Korasov wrote on his official Facebook page: “My paintings were used in the Cairo subway without my permission and even mentioning my name!”
The Russian painter added that he is waiting for an official response regarding the incident.
Immediately, the head of the Syndicate of Fine Artists Safaa al-Qabbani, responded.
She said in an official Facebook statement: “Designer Ghada Wali is not a member of the Syndicate of Fine Artists. It is not permissible for anyone to use someone else’s work except after obtaining his permission and writing their name as a participant in the work.”
“What draws attention and is directly responsible for what happened is the official who entrusted her with this work in a national project in full view of the whole world without referring to the masters of art, and they are many still alive.”
“Wali is not a mural artist.. Mural photography is a science that has origins and a relationship to architectural design. We have senior and young artists who designed and implemented the murals of the first subway line, the great artist Sami Rafea, and the works of the Tahrir Square murals were carried out by the great artist Ahmed Nabil, Zakaria al Zaini, Mamdouh Ammar and other senior artists,” she explained.
She added: “Here should be a pause to activate the law of practicing the profession so that the union becomes the governing body for any artist and holds him accountable. Major works should not be assigned to union consultants, and this is to organize the work and what we see now does not reoccur.”
Plastic artist, Wageh Wahba, commented on the controversy and said in statements to the “al-Hekaya” show to host Amr Adib, that by comparing the drawings in the Girls’ College metro station and the paintings of the Russian artist, “I can say that what Wali did is not an evocation of thoughts or ideas, as the morals are identical to the paintings.”
Instead, he stressed that Wali should admit her work had been inspired by the painting and give him credit.
He noted that Wali had changed the skin-tone and clothing of the women in the original paintings to appear more Ancient Egyptian.
Wahba suggesting forming technical committees responsible for supervising the decoration of metro stations according to specific artistic visions.
Amr Adib said: “It is shameful. We have inspiring pharaonic art that is enough to fill volumes, and we have reached the point where we are cheating pharaohs drawings from the work of a Russian artist.”
“This is theft, and also, weak theft.”
Adib added that his show tried to contact Wali for comment but received no answer.
The artist behind the controversy
Ghada Wali is a 32-year-old international graphic designer who was chosen among the best graphic designers in the world in 2017. In her presentation in her speech at the World Youth Forum held in Sharm el-Sheikh, 2017, Wali explained how to use graphics and use it in documenting Egyptian heritage and developing educational curricula, and it was announced later that her idea was adopted to stimulate tourism in Luxor using drawings from the era of the ancient Egyptians.
She had recently worked on decorate the stations of the third line of the subway with drawings that express the ancient Egyptian civilization, according to previous television statements. Wali revealed that the process of decorating the metro stations took a year and a half, noting that she tried to put passengers on a journey that takes them through different stages of ancient civilization.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm