THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCESM
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES

From Palestine with Art: Meet the Palestinian creators protecting their heritage, at home and in the diaspora

Palestinian artists and creators at home and in the diaspora are spotlighting their rich culture and identity with global art showcases and talked-about collaborations

Isabella Sullivan

2 May 2024

Palestinian artists

‘One artist won’t be responding, as their house is under a demolition order,’ reads our correspondence with Faisal Saleh, the Palestine Museum US’ executive director – a stark reminder of the dire situation in our region. The artists were partaking in the Palestine Museum US’ acclaimed exhibition ‘From Palestine with Art’, which took place at London’s renowned P21 Gallery earlier this year, and before it, as a Collateral Event at the 2022 Venice Biennale Arte. Offering a unique view into the Palestinian experience, the exhibition features a range of captivating artistic mediums from Palestinians in Palestine itself and the diaspora, showcasing a multifaceted tapestry of Palestinian culture, heritage, and struggles through diverse artistic expressions.

The exhibition was one of many current artistic displays drawing attention to the rich culture of Palestine and its people, which some would say is at risk of being lost. From Palestine with Art features paintings, sculptures, photography, and installations and resonates with the vibrant spirit of Palestinian culture while also reflecting the complexities of ongoing social and political realities.

Mohammed Alhaj, Immigration acrylic on canvas
Mohammed Alhaj, Immigration, acrylic on canvas

Among the featured artists was Sana Farah Bishara, a celebrated bronze sculptor Bishara employs the human body as a powerful metaphor to convey the intricate tapestry of Palestinian women’s experiences. In her artistic journey, she transforms the human form into a rich symbol, embodying the complexities of identity. ‘In my artistic journey, the human body in my sculptures becomes a metaphor, embodying the intricate tapestry of Palestinian women’s lives,’ she says. ‘To me, sculpture is not just a form of expression but a personal wrestling ground – navigating my identity as a person, woman, mother, Arab, and Palestinian in a complex reality.

‘Initially, I created realistic sculptures, but as my work progressed, I began deconstructing, breaking, and cutting, allowing the figure to disintegrate into pieces ready to be moved and reassembled. The modular woman’s body in my works symbolises the complexity of a woman’s life, torn between work, aspirations, family, and soul. The sculptural disassembly and separation metaphorically depict the individual separated from native landscape, leading to a fractured soul with multiple identities. In my family history, many were forced to move from their lands after the Nakba, so the social fabric and personal identity were riven and restive.

‘To celebrate the beauty and resilience of Palestine through my sculptures, I exhibit them globally, inviting people to closely observe and encouraging a deeper understanding,’ continues Bishara. ‘The dynamic fragments within the figures allow for constant reconfiguration, symbolising the ever-changing positions of these women. The dynamism is further amplified through the viewer’s imagination.’

Nabil Anani, In Pursuit of Utopia, acrylic on canvas
Nabil Anani, In Pursuit of Utopia, acrylic on canvas

Her sculptures sat beside works from portrait artist Jacqueline Bejani, who, using the colours of the Palestinian flag as her palette, skillfully weaved together portraits of exceptional Palestinian individuals, creating a collective tapestry titled ‘The Flag’. Bejani’s work sheds light on the ongoing struggle for recognition and justice faced by Palestinians, which, despite the prevalence of social media, many remain unaware of its true complexities.

Through her art, Bejani strives to bridge this gap, countering misconceptions and illuminating the human stories behind the headlines. Other works include pieces from Ghassan Abu Laban, a Jordanian artist whose paintings capture the visual essence of Palestine and its people. ‘Palestinian culture and history in my paintings involve a thoughtful combination of symbolism, colour and narrative,’ explains Abu Laban. ‘Inserting the Palestinian flag colours as an abstract symbol of identity and resistance in cultural symbols, motifs, and iconic elements helps to convey a sense of Palestinian identity.’

‘These exhibitions vividly portray the Palestinian longing for a secure homeland amidst ongoing injustices,’ reveals exhibition curator Saleh. ‘Through art, Palestinian artists defiantly reject boundaries and oppression, celebrating the natural beauty of Palestine and the unyielding spirit of its people. With compelling depictions of the landscape and the tribulations endured, they portray a narrative of hope and defiance, inviting global audiences to witness the unwavering determination and pursuit of liberty.’

Continuing the exhibition’s legacy, Palestine-based weaver Nöl Collective was selected by GV Black for its Coachella collection, highlighting their plight, but also shouting loudly of their culture and weaving traditions. Based in Ramallah in the West Bank, Nöl (loom, in Arabic) Collective was founded by Yasmeen Mjalli to produce thoughtful hand-made pieces in partnership with local family-owned businesses and women’s cooperatives.

Facing unthinkable challenges and difficulties, the Collective hasn’t stopped creating – and its pieces were included in this year’s GV Black edit – a curated group of Black, Indigenous, and people of colour designers available at the festival’s merchandise tent. Produced in Palestine, sweatshirts and t-shirts were cut and sewn in a family-run and solar-powered workshop in Beit Sahour and then screen-printed by hand in the Um al Sharayet neighbourhood of Ramallah. Art and fashion serve as a soft power reminder to the rich Palestinian culture and heritage, which must be preserved at all costs.

This article originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2024 issue of Near+Far

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