Egypt removes Cairo metro mural after Russian artist complains of plagiarism

The mural was made by Egyptian artist Ghada Wali, who has since been widely criticised for copying the work of Russian artist Georgy Kurasov

An artwork by artist Georgy Kurasov that was allegedly plagiarised by Egyptian artist Ghada Wali for a mural at a metro station in Cairo. Photo courtesy of Georgy Kurasov
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A mural created by Egyptian artist Ghada Wali was removed from a Cairo metro station on Thursday after a Russian artist complained that she had copied his work.

Metro authorities announced the decision after Georgy Kurasov made the plagiarism charge in a Facebook post on Saturday and asked for an official response.

The mural, which adorned the walls of the Koleyet El Banat station on the Cairo metro’s third line, was designed by Wali and her company, Wali's Studio.

A video posted by RATP Dev, a French company that operates the Cairo metro, showed workmen ripping the mural off the walls of the station on Thursday morning.

On Tuesday, Egypt's National Authority for Tunnels and RATP Dev issued a joint statement in which they apologised to Kurasov and promised to remove the mural.

They said Wali's Studio had been commissioned to provide original artworks for several stations on the line.

“We would like to offer our apologies to the Russian artist Georgy Kurasov and to anyone who was offended by this. We take intellectual property rights very seriously,” the joint statement said.

It said neither company knew anything about the plagiarism and that they had stopped dealing with Wali's Studio in March after it failed to meet deadlines.

Neither Wali nor her studio have commented publicly on Kurasov's accusation. The National's calls to the studio went unanswered.

Egyptian social media channels have been flooded with criticism of Wali in the past week.

“Ghada Wali, you don't need to respond to the Russian artist's accusations, because a blind man can see that your work is plagiarised,” wrote actor Abbas Aboelhassan on Twitter.

Wali made headlines when she pitched a new design strategy for the country’s tourism promotion campaign to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi at the 2017 edition of the World Youth Forum. She worked briefly on the team that created a new modern-looking logo for Luxor before quitting.

Many on social media noted that the women in her mural, in a similar pose and dress to the subjects in Kurasov's painting, were depicted more modestly by covering up more of the figures.

The tunnels authority and RATP Dev said they would take legal action against Wali's Studio for plagiarism and check that other works it produced for the metro line were not plagiarised.

Updated: July 08, 2022, 7:29 AM