In memory of Bordji – Art – Culture

Penguin and Uncle Seagull, two characters with extravagant adventures.

Batrik wa Am Nowres (Penguin and Uncle Seagull) are two comic book characters that Algerian artist Djamel Si Larbi created in the 90s for the magazine Alaeddine, and whose adventures he published every week for more than ten years.

Comic strips representing the two characters were displayed on the walls of the Isis room at the Mahmoud Mokhtar museum. We could follow their conversations, their anecdotes about everything and anything, as well as their comments on what was happening around them. The problems of global warming and the risks run by the glaciers of the North Pole were already topical. The Algerian cartoonist and caricaturist, born in 1956 and died in 2007, was very forward-looking.

Installed in Cairo since 1994, after fleeing the Islamists in his native country, he has always considered himself a citizen of the world. Thus, the problems of the planet and those of politics often find an echo in his drawings. Batrik wa Am Nowres (Penguin and Uncle Seagull) prove it, several years after his sudden disappearance at the age of 50.

The exhibition showed specimens of the comic series published in the youth magazine Alaeddine, this group post Al Ahram where he has been working in Arabic since his arrival in Egypt. And this, simultaneously withAl-Ahram weeklyof which he was one of the founders and main contributors.

His characters were fluent in the Egyptian dialect, as was he himself, as he had quickly integrated into intellectual circles. In addition to the original plates, others have been enlarged and printed on the walls of the showroom, in black and white or in colour.

The legacy of big names

Since the creation of Cairocomix, we are eager to remember the big names of famous cartoonists, to revisit the work of the pioneers. And this, in order to let the younger generations discover the creations of the latter, which are little known to them. Furthermore, these cartoonists have contributed to our education. It is important to commemorate their memories. Every year we choose a comic series that has been going on for years, to underline its importance and remember the role of its creator. », points out Shennawy, co-founder of the cairocomix and curator of the exhibition. He himself had a very special bond with Bordji (stage name of Djamel Si Larbi).


Bordji has been part of the Egyptian cultural landscape for fifteen years.

The cartoonist, illustrator, translator, journalist and activist of the Algerian left was a true intellectual encyclopedist. ” Sadly the comics of Bordji and other cartoonists are disappearing from Egyptian magazine archives laments Shennawy, for whom Bordji was a spiritual father and mentor. And it’s up to him to explain that much of the visual heritage of these reviews is all but lost. cairocomix therefore seeks to preserve the comics of these great cartoonists, calling upon their families, friends and the various institutions concerned, in order to reveal their legacies to the general public.

Shennawy himself wrote a text summarizing his history with Bordji, whom he first met in 1996. He chose to compose this text in the form of bubbles, like in comics. ” Djamel Si Larbi was one of the artists who left his mark in comics in Egypt. My friend Hefanoui and I, at the age of 17, went to Alaaeddine magazine, without prior appointment, with our portfolio. We wanted to show our designs to the editorial director, Ossama Farag. In the latter’s office we met Djamel Si Larbi and discovered that he himself was Bordji, the creator of Batrik wa Am Nowres, which we followed weekly. Without being a teacher, Djamel, very warm-hearted, had the eye and the experience to train us. He told us about the European school and the Franco-Belgian school of comics, he pronounced words, titles and terms correctly and encouraged us to work harder. He quickly became my friend. We went to see him every week says Shennawy, who has now himself become one of the key figures in the comic world in Egypt. He continues to publish the magazine Tocborn in 2011 from the meeting of five young designers: Shennawy, Makhlouf, Andeel, Hicham Rahmah and Tewfig.

Shennawy is the driving force, struggling to find financial partners, to inspire similar projects in the Arab world, to break taboos with his peers, a bit like Bordji, who has always rejected dogmas and canonical rules.

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