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Recommendations of the month (January 2024)

Palestinian Artists


Samia Halaby


Samia Halaby is considered to be a trailblazer in contemporary abstract art internationally. In her renowned paintings—which have been collected by international museums since the 1970s—Halaby draws inspiration from nature and historical movements such as early Islamic architecture and the Soviet avante-garde.

 

Displaced from Palestine in 1948 with her family when she was eleven, Halaby was educated in the American Midwest at a time when abstract expressionism was popular but female abstract painters were marginalized. Her work has exhibited in galleries and is housed in private collections throughout the world. Halaby is collected by many museums such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art (New York and Abu Dhabi); Cleveland Museum of Art; Institut du Monde Arabe; and Birzeit University (Ramallah).


In addition to her prolific career as an artist, Halaby is also heralded as an innovative thinker, educator, and activist. Halaby’s writings on art history, pedagogy, and aesthetics have appeared in numerous publications over the last three decades. Her 2002 survey, Liberation Art of Palestine, is a seminal text of Palestinian art history. Halaby has published two books within the past year: Drawing the Kafr Qasem Massacre—recipient of a 2017 Palestine Book Award—and Growing Shapes: Aesthetic Insights of an Abstract Painter. As an educator, Halaby introduced a groundbreaking undergraduate studio art program to art departments throughout the Midwest, and was the first full-time female associate professor at the Yale School of Art for nearly a decade. A New York-based advocate, Halaby has also been organizing for causes concerning class, race, and Palestine since the 1970s.


Alaa Albaba


Born in Jerusalem in 1985, Alaa Albaba studied at the Visual Arts Forum between 2008 and 2010. In 2015 he obtained his bachelor’s degree at the International Academy of Contemporary Art Palestine. His most prominent project is The Fish Path (2015 – 2017), starting from Al-Nabi Saleh Village to Al-Amari Refugee Camp, the artist created 18 murals throughout Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan, focusing on painting fish as a symbol of Palestinian refugees who are longing to return to their villages by the sea. In 2015, Albaba also obtained an art residency in Beirut at the Al-Jana Foundation for Arts and Culture.


Albaba uses different techniques and materials in his paintings and murals. He produced a number of surrealist and expressionist artworks through his “On the Wall” initiative. In his paintings, he relies on research and experimentation highlighting the density of the camp through different comparisons and approaches with its modern urban surroundings which to this day preserves its architectural and political identity. Albaba explores different socio-political issues focusing on his relationship with the refugee camp where he lives.


Dana Barqawi


Dana Barqawi is a multidisciplinary artist and urban planner, based in Amman, Jordan. She holds a BSc in Architecture and a double MSc in International Cooperation, Urban Development & Emergency Architecture.


For Dana, the act of artistic creation is inseparable from notions of the real world. In times where socio-political changes compose an inherent part of our reality, Dana chooses to reflect the context within her work, consequently creating politically and socially engaged art. Dana’s work challenges colonial narratives, explores indigenous identities, and aspects of womanhood and community. This approach unfolded as a result of her years of work with INGOs and Government bodies, and her International training spanning Europe, Africa & the Middle East focusing on community participation and development.


Growing up with women who painted, sewed, designed, and made art, Dana extends herself through artistry and has a long-standing fascination with detail. Working from a workshop studio in Jabal al Weibdeh - Amman, her work involves experimenting with material and is constantly evolving.


She participated in exhibitions in Amman, Washington and Connecticut, and she curated an exhibition in collaboration with an academic entity. Dana’s work has been published in World Literature Today and Discontent magazines.

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